updated 3/27/2007 3:54:29 PM ET 2007-03-27T19:54:29

The Naval Academy said Tuesday it is investigating allegations of lewd behavior and heavy drinking by a group of midshipmen on a spring break Caribbean cruise.

One passenger wrote that she and other women were groped, and that some of the midshipmen offered alcohol to teenage girls on the cruise.

The allegations hit as the academy has been trying to stop alcohol abuse and sexual impropriety following two sexual misconduct cases allegedly involving academy football players.

"The Naval Academy is reviewing allegations of possible misconduct involving midshipmen aboard a cruise ship during spring break," March 10-18, the academy said Tuesday in a statement.

"Typically, midshipmen are in a leave status during this time and are expected to abide by the academy's clear standards regarding appropriate behavior both in and out of uniform," the statement said.

The investigation began after a woman on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Glory complained in an e-mail to the academy that a group of eight to 10 male midshipmen were acting in a "lewd" manner, the Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

"I was 'felt up' by one of the very drunk men and I was given the misfortune of watching them grab and disrespect every woman they could get close to as well as seeing them offer underage (15 and 17 year old) girls at our table alcohol," the woman wrote.

In a March 18 posting on cruisecritics.com, another passenger described "a group of boys from the Naval academy" who were "being very loose with their hands when talking with the ladies."

The academy has suffered bad publicity since star quarterback Lamar Owens Jr. was charged with raping a female midshipman in January 2006.

A jury found Owens not guilty of rape but convicted him of conduct unbecoming an officer and disobeying a lawful order. Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt, the academy's superintendent, recommended Owens be dismissed despite his acquittal. Owens is appealing.

Another former football player, Kenny Ray Morrison, faces a general court-martial Monday on two counts of indecent assault and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for allegedly assaulting two female midshipmen during separate incidents last year.

The academy earlier this month outlined plans to have its 4,000 midshipmen take classes this fall to raise awareness about sexual harassment and its consequences. Women make up about 19 percent of the academy's student body.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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