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Courtney introduces bill to protect Coast Guard cadets reporting sex assault

Capt. Jason Deichler, Naval Submarine School (NSS) director of training, discusses a high-fidelity training evolution in an NSS attack center with Congressman Joe Courtney (Charles E. Spirtos/U.S. Navy)
August 27, 2023

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, is among lawmakers introducing new legislation in the wake of the coverup of an internal investigation into sexual misconduct at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

The measure would apply the same protections to Coast Guard cadets that are currently afforded to Army cadets, Air Force cadets and Navy midshipmen. It prevents them from being punished for minor offenses ― such as underage drinking or violating curfew ― when reporting an incident of sexual assault.

Lawmakers in 2021 directed the Department of Defense to implement the Safe-to-Report provisions at the academies under its jurisdiction. The Coast Guard Academy, however, falls under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security.

“This is one step in the process to care for our cadets as I continue to engage with Coast Guard leadership on the path forward following its failure to disclose the investigation into its history of sexual assault and harassment at the Coast Guard Academy,” Courtney said.

Coast Guard leadership has been in turmoil since word got out that an internal investigation into years of sexual misconduct at the academy, dubbed “Operation Fouled Anchor,” had been kept confidential. The story was first reported by CNN on June 30.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Adm. Karl Schultz, then the Coast Guard commandant, made the decision in 2018 to keep the report confidential.

The revelation prompted a public apology from Adm. Linda Fagan, the Coast Guard commandant, who acknowledged that Coast Guard investigators looked into all sexual assaults that were alleged to have occurred at the academy between 1988 and 2006.

Retired Adm. Charles Ray, former vice commandant of the Coast Guard, resigned last week from the Coast Guard Academy’s Loy Institute for Leadership over his connection to the coverup.

Courtney, who drafted the legislation, joined fellow representatives Trent Kelly, R-Miss., Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., and Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., in introducing the Coast Guard Academy Safe-to-Report Parity Act.

Carbajal ― a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he serves as the top Democrat of the subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation ― said the committee has already taken steps to improve response to sexual assault at the other service academies.

“This bill is simple and straightforward, bringing all military service academies under the same umbrella of safety and accountability to protect the next generation of service members,” he said.


(c) 2023 The Day

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