An investigation into the United States Coast Guard Academy uncovered a “disturbing pattern” of alleged rape and assault cover-ups, but the results of the probe were kept secret for years, according to CNN.
A 2019 draft of the investigation findings, obtained by the outlet, revealed that misconduct reported from the late 1980s through 2006 was largely ignored and kept in the dark by top officials.
The probe, called Operation Fouled Anchor, was launched in 2014 and involved over 75 agents and 20,000 hours of investigative research.
“There was a disturbing pattern of not treating reported sexual assaults as criminal matters,” the draft report stated.
The investigation revealed more than 90 alleged sexual assaults, but most were supposedly buried due to a lack of evidence. For at least 40 cases, the Coast Guard no longer had jurisdiction over the alleged attackers at the time of the investigation’s findings.
According to the draft report, high-ranking officials “did not adequately investigate allegations as serious criminal matters and hold perpetrators appropriately accountable.” Officials “failed to take sufficient action to ensure a safe environment – particularly for female cadets – and failed to instill a culture intolerant of sexual misconduct,” it added.
Some alleged attackers received a slap on the wrist for their misconduct, including being assigned additional homework or receiving a lowered class standing. However, according to CNN, others went on to become top Coast Guard officials. Two accused attackers were convinced to retire, the outlet reported.
As a result of the inaction from high-ranking officials, many alleged victims left the academy.
Ultimately, the report concluded that the “investigation made clear that the [school’s] leadership was more concerned at that time about organizational and [Coast Guard Academy] reputation than about the victims of crimes who were members of our service.”
Despite Operation Fouled Anchor’s bombshell discoveries, the investigation’s results were ultimately kept in the dark.
“The ability to assign specific accountability was limited because none of these individuals remained subject to criminal or administrative actions, the evidence for the decisions made on these cases (most of which were over 20 years old) was incomplete, and the imprecise nature of the then-existing policies,” the report stated.
According to news outlet, the investigation’s findings were not reported to Congress until June, after the outlet contacted the Coast Guard about the buried results.
Coast Guard officials reportedly told Senate Commerce Committee staff recently that more than 60 allegations of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment had been “substantiated,” the outlet reported.
In a statement to CNN, the Coast Guard said in part that it is “dedicated to supporting and addressing the needs of survivors, improving access to justice, holding offenders accountable and ensuring a coordinated response to sexual assault and harassment.”
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