WASHINGTON – A military jury recommended no punishment Friday for a former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback who was acquitted of raping a female midshipman but convicted on lesser charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and disobeying a lawful order.
Lamar S. Owens Jr.' mother burst into tears, and his father leaned over a dividing wall and hugged him as the jury's decision was read. Prosecutors had recommended a two-year sentence for the 22-year-old from Savannah, Ga., for conduct unbecoming.
Owens' status as a midshipman at the academy, where he had been prepared to graduate, was referred to academy superintendent Vice Admiral Rodney Rempt.
The five Naval Academy officers that served as the jury found Thursday that Owens had consensual sex with a junior midshipman in her room at the academy Jan. 29, but they found that Owens was not guilty of rape. His accuser had claimed Owens entered her room uninvited and raped her after she blacked out.
Both Owens and his accuser testified that they had several drinks at separate locations in the hours before their early morning encounter.
Owens testified that the sexual encounter was consensual, that the woman had asked him to come to her room and then tugged on his sweater to get him into bed. "The sex was very quick and there wasn't a lot of romance," he testified. His accuser testified that she repeatedly rejected his advances.
During his sentencing hearing, Owens told the court he hoped to remain in the service.
"I still want to be a Naval officer," Owens told the officers at his court martial. "I deeply regret the unwanted attention that I brought to the Naval Academy."
Owens led Navy's football team to an 8-4 record last season that included victories over military academy rivals Air Force and Army and a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl over Colorado State. He was not allowed to graduate with his classmates.