Midshipmen Embroiled In Abuse Probe May Attend Graduation Ceremony, But Won’t Get Diplomas

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge ruled Thursday that six U.S. Merchant Marine Academy midshipmen who play on the soccer team may participate in weekend graduation ceremonies, but will not receive diplomas.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, the midshipmen walked out of the federal courthouse stonefaced, even though they had a partial victory.

While they may attend the graduation ceremony on Saturday, their diplomas, degrees and Coast Guard licenses will be withheld pending the outcome of a case involving sexual abuse on a soccer team bus.

Six young men had previously been told they would not be able to walk with their classmates.

“We are pretty comfortable in saying our clients were not involved in anything of a sexual nature,” said attorney Shaun Hogan. “They were all on the same soccer team. They took care of the first year kids. They can’t even foresee anything like that being done by one of their teammates.”

Newsday first reported the academy’s superintendent, Rear Admiral James Helis, sent an email to students and faculty last week about the suspension.

The probe is being conducted by the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the academy’s overseer.

Last year, a program that places academy midshipmen on commercial vessels was temporary suspended amid concerns about sexual abuse and harassment.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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