Op-Ed: Time to Investigate SASH Cover-Up at U.S. Coast Guard Academy
In 2014, I testified twice before a Congressionally mandated panel on military sexual assault. I testified about the problems I’d encountered as a Coast Guard officer in the late 1990s and as a Maritime Administration chief counsel.
Like all good officers, I provided recommendations on how to stop the crimes - remove prosecutions from the chain of command. Hold perpetrators accountable for committing sexual assaults. Hold people accountable for covering up sexual assaults.
I thought about those recommendations when reading the CNN article this morning about sexual assaults at the US Coast Guard Academy. Per CNN, the Coast Guard initiated a review in 2014 of sexual assaults that had occurred between the late 1980s and 2006.
The review, known as Operation Fouled Anchor, uncovered many assaults and sadly, no prosecutions. Victims were blamed and perpetrators were allowed to stay on active duty.
And then the review was covered up, only to come to light because of CNN’s reporting.
To learn that crimes were occurring without accountability fills me with sorrow. To learn that senior Coast Guard officials who I call friends participated in a possible cover-up fills me with anger.
We all swore the same oath to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. A Coast Guard member who commits sexual assault violates his or her oath of office. A Coast Guard member who covers up a crime also violates his or her oath of office. Both should be held accountable for their actions.
I support Congressional hearings on the crimes that occurred in Connecticut. I support Congress’ demands that the Coast Guard provide documentation on the 42 individuals against who there may have been substantiated claims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
I support Congress’ request for information regarding the 58 survivors, and its request for the names of the leaders who “discouraged survivors from filing formal complaints or otherwise disclosing their assaults.”
The Coast Guard’s motto Semper Paratus means “Always Ready.” It is time for service leaders to remember that they have to be always ready to hold those who commit crime accountable for their actions - and always be ready to hold those who cover up these crimes accountable as well.
K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a former Coast Guard officer and former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.