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The Coast Guard Academy announced Friday afternoon that Master Chief Brett VerHulst was permanently relieved earlier this month but an investigation found no evidence of sexual assault, harassment or contact.
The Coast Guard Academy announced Friday afternoon that Master Chief Brett VerHulst was permanently relieved earlier this month but an investigation found no evidence of sexual assault, harassment or contact. (U.S. Coast Guard)

NEW LONDON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — The Coast Guard Academy announced Friday afternoon that Master Chief Brett VerHulst was permanently relieved earlier this month but an investigation found no evidence of sexual assault, harassment or contact.

Superintendent Rear Adm. William Kelly had announced in an email to staff on April 27 that VerHulst “resigned his duties” as the command master chief, the senior enlisted leader at the academy, effective immediately.

The Coast Guard later said VerHulst had been temporarily relieved of his primary duties, and that the Coast Guard Investigative Service was “conducting an investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct” by VerHulst.

“A small number of academy personnel reported that Master Chief VerHulst demonstrated behaviors in personal interactions that made them uncomfortable,” academy spokesperson David Santos said in an email Friday. “This resulted in the Superintendent’s loss of confidence that Master Chief VerHulst could continue to perform his duties effectively. A subsequent investigation found no evidence of sexual assault, sexual contact, or sexual harassment.”

Santos said in May that Kelly “lost confidence in Master Chief Brett VerHulst’s ability to serve as Command Master Chief of the Academy, and reassigned VerHulst to the Coast Guard Research and Development Center while he awaited orders for his retirement.”

The announcement of VerHulst’s reassignment came in late April. The academy hadn’t previously mentioned retirement.

The academy said the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center permanently relieved VerHulst on July 9, and that he “is currently on terminal leave before his retirement and is no longer performing military duties.”

Santos didn’t respond to calls Friday afternoon seeking further clarification, or to a subsequent email with questions.

The Day has refiled a Freedom of Information Act requesting seeking documents pertaining to the investigation into VerHulst; the Coast Guard Investigative Service denied a previous request, saying the investigation was ongoing.

e.moser@theday.com

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(c)2021 The Day (New London, Conn.)

Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at www.theday.com

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