A former U.S. Coast Guard head covered up a secret investigation into multiple cases of rapes and sexual assaults at the Coast Guard Academy, according to a report.
Karl Leo Schultz, who is now a retired U.S. Coast Guard admiral, served as the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant from 2018 to 2022 and covered up a probe four years ago in order to safeguard the military institution’s reputation, CNN reported August 8.
The report said Schultz took charge of the agency in June of 2018 as the probe into rapes and assaults at the academy, dubbed Operation Fouled Anchor, was in its concluding stage.
The dark history of sexual abuse at the academy spanned between the 1980s and 2006.
The CNN investigation found systemic mishandling of sexual assault allegations at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as Schultz and his deputy, Admiral Charles W. Ray, had failed to act on—or even disclose—the report’s findings.
A 2019 draft report stemming from the probe concluded that the academy leadership had been more concerned about its reputation than the well-being of victims. U.S. military leadership notoriously ignored reports of sexual assault and punished the victims instead.
Despite findings of wrongdoing, the probe was quietly closed. The Coast Guard only briefed members of U.S. Congress in June about the secret investigation after inquiries from CNN.
“It is heartbreaking, maddening, frustrating and intolerable where we are today with this sexual abuse and assault within the Coast Guard,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the U.S. Senate commerce committee said at a subcommittee hearing in July. “We cannot tolerate the fact that the Coast Guard did not notify us of this. We cannot have the media be the policeman on the beat.”
U.S. senators slammed the Coast Guard’s handling of Operation Fouled Anchor, saying that it served to traumatize victims yet again. The investigation at the Coast Guard was launched in 2014 when an academy graduate reported that her allegation of rape was not investigated.
“I cannot begin to describe how unlivable some months and years of my life have been,” one woman, who was interviewed during Fouled Anchor about her alleged rape, was quoted as saying by CNN.
“In my life, there have been severe damages and notable sacrifices to my quality of life and my career that I may never fully recover and require consistent repair and care.”
The Coast Guard’s current head, Linda Fagan, who took the helm after Schultz in 2022, told senators that she was unaware why the Coast Guard did not previously disclose the outcome of the probe. Fagan said she herself only learned of the “totality” of the Fouled Anchor probe when CNN inquired about the issue this past spring.
“We failed the committee when we did not disclose it in 2020,” Fagan noted, describing a “pattern of failure” to address reports of sexual misconduct and said there was a “lack of clarity of leadership with regard to how those reports needed to be handled.”
“It started as legacy sexual assaults that were mishandled at the Coast Guard Academy, but it is clear to me that we’ve got a culture in areas that is permissive and allows sexual assaults, harassment, bullying, retaliation, that’s inconsistent with our core values.”
Earlier this year, the Pentagon’s annual report about sexual misconduct in the U.S. military showed an increase in sexual assaults in 2022. Its latest annual report released in April showed sexual assaults had increased by one percent last year.
The increase in sexual assaults was reported in all of the U.S. military services, however, an increase in the U.S. Army was not mentioned in the report.
The U.S. Navy reported a nine percent increase, and the Marine Corps showed a 3.6 percent rise. Sexual assaults in the Air Force showed the most increase at 13 percent. (PressTV.ir)