CNN reports that an investigation at the United States Coast Guard Academy revealed a disturbing pattern of alleged cover-ups of rapes and assaults. However, the results of this probe were kept secret for years.
The outlet obtained a draft of the investigation findings in 2019 that revealed top officials ignored misconduct reports from the late 1980s to 2006.
Operation Fouled Anchor was launched in 2014. It involved 75 agents, 20,000 hours of research, and over 75 years of experience.
The draft report noted that “there was a disturbing trend of not treating sexual assaults reports as criminal cases.”
The investigation revealed that there were more than 90 allegations of sexual assault, but many had been allegedly buried because they lacked evidence. At least 40 of these cases were not under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard at the time the investigation was completed.
The draft report states that high-ranking officers “didn’t adequately investigate allegations and hold perpetrators accountable.” They also failed to create a culture of intolerant sexual misconduct.
Some of the alleged attackers were given a small slap on their wrists for their misconduct. This included being given additional homework or a lower class ranking. CNN reports that some of the alleged attackers went on to be top Coast Guard officials. The outlet reported that two accused attackers were persuaded to retire.
Many alleged victims have left the academy due to the inaction of high-ranking officials.
The report concluded, “[the school’s] leadership cared more about [the Coast Guard Academy] and its reputation at the time than it did about victims of crime who were members of the Coast Guard Academy.”
The investigation’s findings were kept secret despite the bombshell revelations made by Operation Fouled Anchor.
The report said that “the ability to assign specific responsibility was limited” because no one of these individuals was subject to any criminal or administrative action, the evidence used to make decisions on these cases was incomplete (most were older than 20 years) and the policies then in place were imprecise.
The Coast Guard was contacted by the news outlet about the hidden results. Only then were the findings of the investigation reported to Congress.
The outlet reported that Coast Guard officials told Senate Commerce Committee staff members recently that over 60 allegations of sexual assault and harassment, including rapes, had been “substantiated”.
In a CNN statement, the Coast Guard stated that they are “dedicated” to supporting survivors and meeting their needs, improving access to justice, holding perpetrators accountable, and ensuring a coordinated response to sexual harassment and assault.