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Navy judge could face disciplinary action for allegedly lying under oath in Marine sex misconduct case

Cmdr. Aaron Rugh
Navy Commander Aaron Rugh. Photo US Navy

It was revealed Monday in a military court that Navy appellate judge Aaron Rugh is under investigation by Naval Legal Service Command. Rugh served as a prosecutor in the trial of Marine Maj. Mark Thompson who was accused of having sex with two female midshipmen when he taught at the US Naval Academy.

Former cadet Sarah Stadler claims she and Thompson had an ongoing, consensual affair and that she and another student had sex with him after a drunken night of strip poker at his Virginia home in 2011. The other woman claimed she was raped. Thompson was acquitted of the assault charges but spent 2 months in the brig for the lesser charges in 2013.

Sarah Stadler (left-photo USN) and Major Mark Thompson (right-photo LinkedIn)
Sarah Stadler (left-photo USN) and Major Mark Thompson (right-photo LinkedIn)

Cmdr. Aaron Rugh has now come under scrutiny for statements he made during a 2014 board of inquiry. Rugh told the panel that the prosecution team had interviewed Stadler’s family about a key point of contention in the case, but the Stadler family called that a “complete and total lie.”

If the ethics complaint against Rugh proves to be valid, he could face disciplinary action, possibly suspension. He currently still serves as a panel judge for the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

According to Military.com, military judge Lt. Col. Christopher Greer said Monday during Thompson’s arraignment that from the judiciary side, no action needed to be taken against Rugh, in light of the Post report, since he had moved to an appellate post.

Thompson is facing his own new legal troubles. Three months ago, new criminal charges were brought against the former Naval Academy instructor. He’s now charged with one count of making a false official statement and another of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. His second court martial is scheduled for early next year.

The new charges stem from an in-depth investigation by the Washington Post which uncovered  new information from Stadler’s lost cell phone—which contained detailed text messages confirming that Thompson had lied repeatedly, “in an effort to prove his innocence.”

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