Senate launches inquiry into Coast Guard’s reported mishandling of sexual assaults

A Senate subcommittee is kickstarting an inquiry into the mishandling of dozens of reports of sexual assaults and rapes at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations announced Thursday that it sent a letter to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda L. Fagan notifying her of the inquiry. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the subcommittee, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote in the letter that “the leaders who oversaw or perhaps created the environment where misconduct occurred and did nothing must be held accountable.”

“It is unclear whether those responsible have continued their careers in the Coast Guard, received higher positions of authority, or left service and escaped accountability all together,” they wrote in the letter.

The inquiry comes after it was publicly revealed that the Coast Guard launched an investigation into allegations that the Coast Guard Academy allegedly mishandled reports of rape and sexual assault from the late 1980s until 2006. The investigation — known as “Operation Fouled Anchor” — concluded in January 2020, but it was not made public or known to public officials until CNN reported on the internal investigation in June.

The senators wrote that a memo published in January 2020 proved that leadership at the Coast Guard was aware of the allegations.

“According to this memo, the Academy was aware of allegations against 30 of the 43 individuals implicated at the time of the alleged assaults, however, only five were contemporaneously reported to USCG investigative services and/or local law enforcement,” the senators wrote.

The Coast Guard had issued an apology for not taking “appropriate action” years ago shortly after the CNN report was published and acknowledged that it did not widely disclose the internal investigation.

The senators are asking the Coast Guard for all records in connection to the investigation, as well as all policies related to sexual harassment and assault.

The Hill has reached out to the Coast Guard for comment.

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