Update: Case against top neurosurgeon accused of sexual assault will not go to court martial

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Update:The case against a Navy neurosurgeon accused of having sex with a drunk medical student without consent will not be heading to court martial.

The officer investigating those charges against commander Steven Cobery decided there was not enough evidence to prove that he sexually assaulted the ensign.

But he did recommend that charges of fraternization with a lower ranking officer, and conduct unbecoming of an officer be taken up through non-judicial punishment proceedings.

We are told commanders at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth have not made a final decision on if Commander Cobery will be brought to captain's mast.

Previous: Portsmouth, Va.- He was the Director of Surgical Services at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Now, he is accused of sexually assaulting a young medical student applying for a surgical internship.

Commander Steven Cobery faces several potential charges that include committing a sexual act without consent, fraternization, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

At his article 32 hearing Wednesday aboard Naval Station Norfolk, one witness testified to seeing the young medical student visibly drunk on Halloween night of 2012, and Commander Cobery still pursuing her at a Portsmouth bar.

She even testified that she doesn't remember much…until she woke up at Commander Cobery's home, without her clothes on.

A forensic exam done by nurses at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth showed abrasions and bite marks on the victim's breasts.

Toxicology tests showed her blood alcohol level was still at .025 more than 12 hours after the assault.

Using witness testimony, prosecutors tried to paint a picture that Dr. Cobery, as a Navy Commander, should have known better than to fraternize and have sex with a young Ensign medical student while she was drunk and could not give consent.

Defense attorneys fought back against the allegations in their cross-examination of witnesses, inferring that the medical student was trying to get a surgical internship, and that she went home willingly with Commander Cobery because she thought it would help her get into the program.

They also made claims that she was forced into reporting this as a sexual assault by her chain of command, even though she didn’t want to at first.

Now an investigating officer will review the evidence, to determine if there is enough for the case against Commander Cobery to head to a court-martial.


  • Jack Meagher

    The alleged victim practiced medicine all day at NMCP under the supervision of a residency director. Was she intoxicated while she practiced medicine all day?

    • David Alt

      Story pretty clearly states she was a medical student at the time – thus, not an intern, and incapable of “practicing medicine” at all. As a medical student, she would be under the direction of her supervising interns/residents (practically speaking) and under the clerkship director and medical student director, administratively.

      • Jack Meagher

        So you believe that a medical student on amphetamines and alcohol should be in an operating room in a naval hospital?

  • Jack Meagher

    What was the point?

    Did she practice medicine all day, head to a bar after work, have a beer and then get called back into the hospital?

    If she is blowing a .025 15 hours after her last drink someone in that hospital would have noticed that she was intoxicated.

  • Jack Meagher

    I have seen the video and it is evident who the predator is. I have asked the author to correct this story but she has not complied.

  • Jack Meagher

    1. Only one eye witness stated that she was visibly drunk and the accused was pursuing her. Several others stated that she was not. The video clearly shows that she was pursuing him.

    2. It is stated that more than 12 hours after the incident she still had a blood alcohol content of .025. That was not residual alcohol from the night before. If it were, absorption rates indicate that she would have been almost .28 when she reported to work.

    The corrections are: Change witnesses to One Witness and remove the word still.

    • Becca Mitchell

      Jack – These are things that should be brought up to the police or in court. We can’t just change information in a story like that.

  • Jack Meagher

    Thanks Becca, The author corrected her first mistake as i told her she should. I directed her how to correct the wording of the BAC level to make the story more accurate. It reflects poorly on the residency director of the hospital if she let an intern practice medicine all day intoxicated and no one noticed, Sounds like a leadership problem to me.

  • Jack Meagher

    The fact that the reporter lied about the number of eye witnesses is indicative enough of the slant that she wanted on the story.

  • Renee

    Unfortunately none of the wording in this article will make any difference now. People draw their own conclusions and will have found him guilty even if he is innocent of these charges. This stigma will follow his military career for the remainder of his time in service. Whether he is guilty or not he will have paid the price for his indiscretion with this intern. As a senior officer he will reprimanded by the military for having had relations with her in the first place, whether it was forced or not. He will more then likely lose his position over these charges. If she is crying foul for no reason she needs to see that her actions have caused this man to lose his job and her chances at getting the internship she wanted have gone down the drain. If he is guilty then he will serve his time for this in a prison thus having thrown away his career away for nothing. I somehow don’t see that being the case.

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