U.S. Naval Academy via AP
Midshipman 1st Class Kenny Ray Morrison was convicted of forcing himself on a fellow student in February 2006.
updated 4/9/2007 8:59:24 PM ET 2007-04-10T00:59:24

A Naval Academy midshipman was found guilty Monday of sexually assaulting a fellow student at a Washington hotel last year, a verdict that could lead to prison and his dismissal from the Annapolis, Md., military school.

After three hours of deliberation, a jury of seven Navy and Marine Corps officers convicted Kenny Ray Morrison of indecent assault for forcing himself on a female midshipman in February 2006 after a night of drinking at a nearby nightclub. He was also found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for his actions during the incident.

However, the jury cleared him of charges that he also had sex with another midshipman against her will in April 2006.

Morrison, 24, quivered slightly as the verdict was read while he stood at attention behind the defense table. He faces a possible 10-year prison sentence, dismissal from the academy and forfeiture of pay. The military jury reconvenes Tuesday to consider a penalty.

The two women — one a current midshipman and the other a former midshipman who is now a Marine lieutenant — held hands in a back bench of the small courtroom at the Washington Navy Yard as the verdict was read. Both testified they believed Morrison had sex with them against their will.

A former backup linebacker on the Navy football team, Morrison, of Kingwood, Texas, is the second Navy football player to be court-martialed in the past year on sexual assault charges.

A military jury cleared former star quarterback Lamar Owens, Jr., of rape last year, but convicted him of lesser offenses.

Allegations Morrison used a "date rape" drug to help him assault the women were dropped because of problems with forensic evidence.

Says the sex was consensual
The conduct unbecoming charge stemmed from the fact that another midshipman was asleep in the hotel room where the sex occurred.

Morrison said the incident was consensual, occurring after he stumbled across the woman as he tried to find a place to sleep. He said the woman initiated sexual contact by rubbing his leg and kissing him.

But Navy prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Colin Kisor said the woman only knew Morrison remotely and was asleep in the room because she felt sick after a night of drinking. Kisor wondered why she would suddenly become amorous when Morrison stumbled in on her by accident.

"If you believe him, at the end of the night, he was incredibly lucky," Kisor said.

The second incident took place two months later, while Morrison was under investigation for the assault at the hotel.

The woman, the Marine lieutenant, said she saw Morrison at an Annapolis bar the night of April 21 and accepted a beer from him. Her next memory was waking up more than nine hours later, naked in bed next to Morrison.

Morrison's lawyer, William Ferris, said the woman only suspected, but could not say for sure, that Morrison had sex with her without her consent.

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