updated 6/6/2007 10:22:39 PM ET 2007-06-07T02:22:39

The military has charged a former Naval Academy doctor who hosted midshipmen at his home with secretly videotaping the students having sex, the Navy said Tuesday.

Cmdr. Kevin Ronan is charged with 18 counts relating to conduct unbecoming an officer and obstruction of justice, as well as violating federal wiretapping law and a state law against making secret recordings, according to a news release from the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Defense attorney William Ferris denied the allegations Tuesday and said his client is a victim of an extortion attempt by a former student. The student fabricated the situation, he said.

Ferris said the student was expelled for academic reasons and asked Ronan for money several times, hoping to find a way to complete his education, get a military commission and avoid having to pay the government back his academy tuition.

Some civilians involved
Ferris said prosecutors have told him they have a DVD and two videotapes showing students having sex at Ronan's Annapolis home. Ferris, who hasn't seen the recordings, said it's unclear how many midshipmen are shown. At least some civilians were involved.

The Navy did not identify any of the students involved.

If convicted on all charges, Ronan could get up to 18 years in prison, Ferris said.

Ronan, who has been transferred to a post in Washington, was a medical officer at the academy and worked as a doctor for some of its athletic teams.

He was also a "sponsor" at the service academy. Sponsors typically are Annapolis residents who open their homes to midshipmen so they can relax on weekends or school holidays.

Ronan's participation in the program is suspended pending further investigation, an academy spokeswoman said. She declined to comment further on the case.

A hearing similar to a civilian grand jury hearing is scheduled for Monday at the Washington Navy Yard to determine whether the charges will go forward. They could result in a court-martial, be handled administratively or be dismissed.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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