The US Senate has launched a formal inquiry into the Coast Guard’s handling of a secret, years-long investigation that uncovered rapes, sexual assaults and other serious misconduct at the agency’s academy. which is ignored and, at times, covered up by high-ranking officials.
Dubbed “Operation Fouled Anchor,” the investigation was kept confidential by Coast Guard leaders until CNN began questioning the report.
After CNN’s reporting, Coast Guard officials briefed congressional leaders about the investigation, which confirmed multiple attacks and found that some of the defendants had risen to top Coast Guard roles. and other military agencies. Many of the alleged victims, meanwhile, left academia after reporting their assaults and spent decades dealing with the severe negative impact on their careers and mental and physical health, according to the report and interviews. of former academy cadets.
Lawmakers at the Capitol are angry that the Coast Guard has withheld the findings from them for years. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, where the academy is based, called the suppression of the report “probably the most shameful, disgraceful incident of cover-up of sexual assault that I have ever seen in the United States military.” ”
“This delay in disclosure raises serious questions about why information about the conduct of USCG personnel and the safety of cadets has been withheld for so long,” said Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. wrote a letter, along with the rank. member Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The letter was sent this week to US Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan, informing her of the subcommittee’s inquiry.
“The public deserves to know why so many reported cases of sexual assault and harassment have been allowed to go uninvestigated for years,” they wrote. In the letter, the senators requested a litany of documents from the agency, including all documents from the Fouled Anchor investigation and all sexual assault investigations at the academy from 2006 to the present.
Earlier this year, members of Congress said they were particularly concerned that the Fouled Anchor was kept from them at a time when they were investigating the academy’s handling of allegations of bullying and harassment prompted by whistleblower Kimberly Young-McLear.
“In both of these instances, when confronted with allegations of ill-treatment raised by those in lower positions (mostly women), the Service failed to prioritize proper investigation of the allegations, and then retaliated it’s in direct response to the institutional failures that enabled the mismanagement. of those allegations,” House Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, ranking members of the House Oversight and Homeland Security committees, respectively , wrote to Fagan in July.
Following the CNN story on the investigation, Coast Guard leaders apologized to the agency’s entire workforce, survivors of the attack and Congress. The agency launched its own review of assault and harassment policies. Lawmakers in the House and Senate said it was not enough, calling for independent investigations and pressing the agency for more information.
Last month, former vice commander Adm. Charles Ray retired from his position at a leadership institute at the Coast Guard Academy after CNN reported that he helped keep the Fouled Anchor a secret.
“There has been a lot of public discourse about the decisions I made in my last two years of service,” he said in a statement at the time. “I fully accept criticism of my actions and learn from reflecting on them.”
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