ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A civilian professor at the U.S. Naval Academy is suing the Navy for allegedly violating his First Amendment right to free speech.

Attorneys for Bruce Fleming said Thursday the professor was denied merit pay and funding based on a 2014 reprimand. It stemmed from a 2013 classroom discussion, when Fleming prompted his students to consider the academy's sexual assault program and the potentially one-sided burdens it put on men. Two female students pushed back against his comments in class.

After Fleming sent emails to them and other students about what was said, the two students complained to sexual assault prevention officials.

Fleming was cleared in an initial investigation. A second investigation led to the reprimand. It found the professor's initiation of conduct cases against the two students amounted to retaliation.

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