West Point Defends Internal Investigation Into Rape Allegations Against Football Star


The U.S. Military Academy’s star quarterback, Ahmad Bradshaw, was investigated in 2014 after he was accused of raping a female cadet at West Point, according to internal documents reviewed by The Daily Beast on Friday. On Saturday, Dec. 9, the academy released a statement saying the allegations "were unfounded and the case was closed." 

Bradshaw was also found in serious violation of the Military Academy’s exacting honor code in May 2016 after a “failure to properly cite in an academic course,” Academy representatives told The Daily Beast. Honor violations usually translate to expulsion for cadets; those who are retained are typically barred from representing West Point on athletic teams.

In September 2014, Cadet Madeline Lewis accused Bradshaw of raping her after she returned to her barracks room from a shower, the Daily Beast first reported on Dec. 8.

An internal U.S. Military Academy investigation determined that “a consensual sexual relationship between the cadets had occurred”; a second subsequent investigation, conducted by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, turned up “insufficient evidence” for the service to bring rape charges against Bradshaw, according to the Daily Beast. He was instead charged with violating West Point’s Cadet Disciplinary Code for “sexual activity, which includes, but is not limited to: kissing, hand holding, and fondling,” in the barracks.

Bradshaw denied that the two had any sexual relationship at all when speaking to investigators and never gave an official statement. Lewis was forced to do “hours” — typically a repetitive marching punishment, but due to her knee injury, she was instead isolated in detention.

Army West Point Football quarterback, Cadet Ahmad Bradshaw, breaks past a defender during the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dec. 27, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.Photo via DoD

Following the encounter, Lewis — whose grandfather is Capt. Dennis Lewis Sr., an Army Ranger and legendary West Point football player — claims that she was scrutinized and ostracized by West Point, telling the Daily Beast that she filed a formal complaint against Bradshaw after her roommate “told on her for having sex in the barracks” and was subjected to an “invasive” rape kit and placed on suicide watch by medical personnel at the Keller Army Community Hospital in West Point. She ended up leaving the academy after her fall semester, unable to tolerate the torrent of harassment and abuse from fellow cadets, who dubbed her “the whore of the corps” on the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak. The Army quarterback, on the other hand, is set to start at the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, the most important game on Army’s annual schedule.

In 2016, Bradshaw violated West Point's honor code by cheating on coursework. Although Bradshaw’s honor violation was handed down in November 2016, he wasn’t suspended from the football team until the following February, after he’d led Army to an unexpected victory over Navy in December. Bradshaw was reinstated to the team in August 2017 — just in time Army’s first game of the new football season against Fordham. The Black Knights won, 64-6. (West Point told the Daily Beast that the timing of Bradshaw’s punishment and football suspension “followed the typical timeline for other cases that year and no special consideration was given to Cadet Bradshaw.”)  

Bradshaw’s time at West Point has had the makings of an American sports legend. A talented athlete in high school, Bradshaw quickly blossomed into a powerful football star, setting records as the Army’s all-time single-season rushing leader. Last year, after more than a decade of defeat at the hands of the Midshipmen, the Black Knights finally broke Navy’s winning streak with a victory that coach Monken largely attributed to Bradshaw’s performance, calling him “the perfect quarterback for our football team” in a Chicago Tribune profile.

In addition to the assault allegations and the honor violation, internal West Point documents reviewed by The Daily Beast indicate that between 2014 and 2017, Bradshaw racked up multiple honor violations and at least 15 negative observation reports out lodged by both Army officers and fellow cadets.

Cadet Ahmad Bradshaw (17 QB) celebrate an Army victory during the Army-Navy Game at M&T; Bank Stadium, in Baltimore. Army won the game 21-17 and broke the Navy's 14 game unbeaten winning streak in the fierce service academy rivalry.Photo via DoD

Bradshaw’s spotty record also raises questions into the nature of his brief off-season benching by the Black Knights this year. The New York Times wrote in a profile, pegged to tomorrow’s Army/Navy game, that Bradshaw “almost walked away” from the academy and football in 2016. “He has some administrative stuff for something on campus,” Monken told the Times Herald-Record of Bradshaw’s absence at the start of the season, in August 2016. “There’s things, especially with the start of school, just stuff you can’t control.”

The Daily Beast report marks the second serious allegation against a Black Knights football player in as many years. In July 2016, Tyler Lampe was arrested and charged with raping an unconscious woman in her West Chester, Pennsylvania, apartment the previous March. His trial date is set to begin Dec. 11, according to Chester County Court documents.

A March 2017 Department of Defense report on sexual assault and harassment at U.S. military academies during the 2015-2016 school year found that the number of reports at West Point jumped to a decade high, from 17 between 2014 and 2015 to 26 between 2015 and 2016. A full 46% of female cadets reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment during their time at West Point.

“The U.S. Military Academy takes all allegations of criminal conduct seriously and thoroughly investigates alleged criminal activity,” West Point said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “We also respect the privacy and rights of those accused and victims of crimes. The investigation concluded that there was no probable cause to believe that the alleged offenses occurred and has been closed.”

UPDATE: This article was updated to incorporate a statement from the United States Military Academy on the rape allegations made against Bradshaw (12/13/17; 4:06 p.m.) 

Photo via Associated Press
Ryan Kules

Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.

On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.

Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.

Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.

Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.

"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."

While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.

"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.

Read More Show Less
(Courtesy of Roman Sabal)

A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.

Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.

Read More Show Less
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less