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Sen. Baldwin: Demands investigators follow up on reports Coast Guard mishandled sexual assault allegations

Contact: press@baldwin.senate.gov
              202-224-6225

Baldwin’s call comes after new reports that survivors were not provided resources to report sexual assault and get accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is calling on the Inspector General leading an investigation into the U.S. Coast Guard’s handling of reports of sexual misconduct to immediately address new reports that sexual assault survivors were not provided with necessary documentation to report their assault, potentially denying victims benefits and failing to protect Coasties from perpetrators.

“Every single person who raises their right hand and pledges to serve our country deserves to know that they are part of a service that is worthy of their bravery and dedication. To put it bluntly, the Coast Guard failed on their end of this sacred deal,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Coast Guard failed to hold perpetrators accountable and swept the report of sexual assaults under the rug, and now we have discovered it gets worse: reports show the Coast Guard did not do right by the victims, potentially even denying them benefits. These servicemembers deserve better and I’m fighting to make sure they get justice and the benefits they have earned.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Academy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator resigned from her position and provided disturbing accounts of her experiences in relation to “Operation Fouled Anchor,” which was established in 2014 to investigate certain reports of sexual assault and sexual violence during the years of 1988 to 2006. While the “operation” uncovered disturbing reports of sexual assault and sexual violence that were mishandled, the findings were never made available to the public or Congress until last year.

According to the former USCG Academy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, survivors did not receive the Victim Reporting Preference Statement at any point during or after the investigations of their reports of sexual misconduct. The form provides important documentation of reported sexual misconduct and enables victims to seek support services and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In a letter to the Inspector General looking into the Coast Guard’s decades-long mishandling of sexual assault allegations, Senator Baldwin called for victims to receive information about the Victim Reporting Preference Statement and assistance with seeking VA benefits.

The reports of victims not receiving proper documentation comes after the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Operation Fouled Anchor” was revealed, which investigated in secret the Coast Guard’s handling of sexual assault and misconduct. The “operation” identified 62 substantiated incidents of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment that occurred at the Academy, or by Academy cadets, in addition to 42 more individuals against whom there may have been substantiated claims of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment that were never appropriately investigated at the time the incidents were reported. According to information provided by the Coast Guard, a number of those individuals continued to serve for decades without any subsequent investigations. The “operation” concluded in 2020 but was not disclosed to Congress or the public.

Last year, Senator Baldwin demanded answers and accountability from the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan for the mishandling of a previously undisclosed, years-long investigation into sexual assault allegations in connection to the Coast Guard Academy. In February, Senator Baldwin introduced bipartisan legislation to protect survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the United States Coast Guard Academy (CGA) and throughout the entire Coast Guard.

A full version of this letter is available here and below.

Dear Inspector General Cuffari:

I write to draw your attention to newly discovered information relevant to your ongoing investigation of the U.S. Coast Guard’s handling of Operation Fouled Anchor and other reports of sexual misconduct. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator resigned from her position and provided disturbing accounts of her experiences in relation to Operation Fouled Anchor. Among the allegations, she stated that to her knowledge, the survivors did not receive the Victim Reporting Preference Statement, CG-6095, at any point during or after the investigations of their reports of sexual misconduct. This is concerning and unacceptable as this form provides important documentation of reported sexual misconduct and enables victims to seek support services and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and potentially other benefits.

Maintaining the integrity of an ongoing investigation is a critical part of ensuring accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims. And yet, also critical is ensuring these victims receive timely access to every resource and service available. I therefore request that you immediately ensure that the survivors whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of your investigation receive information about the Victim Reporting Preference Statement as well as assistance with completing the form and seeking VA benefits should they so desire.

Further, this document is important for keeping updated records that can help track support to victims, document case management, facilitate trend analysis, and identify serial perpetrators within the Coast Guard and across the services. The Victim Reporting Preference Statement is entered into both the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID) and, at the victim’s request, the Department of Defense Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH) Program. I therefore request that you ensure that the cases covered under Operation Fouled Anchor be accurately captured in DSAID and that the victims are provided the opportunity to report applicable incidents to the CATCH Program if desired.

I appreciate your ongoing work to seek accountability with respect to the serious failures that occurred – and continue to occur – within the Coast Guard’s handling of reports of sexual misconduct. Please keep me informed of the progress on your investigation and of these requests.

Sincerely,

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