U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. (U.S. Coast Guard)

A Senate investigative panel is requesting interviews with Coast Guard personnel to elaborate on 2018 planning documents that led service leaders to bury a report on the yearslong mishandling of sexual assault allegations at the Coast Guard Academy.

The documents were provided Feb. 1 to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ subpanel on investigations, which is examining the cover-up of Operation Fouled Anchor — a 2020 report based on a six-year inquiry into the handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the academy.

After reviewing them, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote Wednesday to Adm. Linda Fagan, the commandant of the Coast Guard, that the documents “are troubling and raise new questions about the reasons for the Coast Guard’s fall of 2018 decision not to brief Congress about Operation Fouled Anchor.”

Blumenthal is chairman of the subpanel, and Johnson is its top Republican.

Operation Fouled Anchor reviewed 102 instances of rape or sexual assault at the academy dating back to the early 1990s through 2006, Blumenthal said in a December hearing on the report. It identified 43 alleged perpetrators and 63 victims. Only five cases had been reported to law enforcement at the time, he said.

Included in the two-dozen pages released to the subpanel this month were lists of the pros and cons for revealing the report to Congress and the public. Coast Guard officials were concerned revealing the report, which had not yet been completed at the time in 2018, would “risk the initiation of comprehensive congressional investigations, hearings and media interest.”

In one section, it is recommended the Coast Guard discuss renaming Operation Fouled Anchor before its release. Another includes handwritten notes from then-Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray that stated: “Problem is one of the past.”

K. Denise Rucker Krepp, a former U.S. Maritime Administration chief counsel and former Coast Guard officer, has been following the situation closely and supports a call to have those leaders involved in the cover-up brought back from retirement to face accountability.

She also fears the impact the situation is having on recruiting.

“The Coast Guard’s continued refusal to be transparent about the decades of rapes in the service is degrading the trust that current Coast Guard personnel have in their leadership,” she said. “What mom sends her daughter into a service that fails to prosecute rape and fails to hold senior leaders accountable for four decades of cover-ups?”

The senators have also requested the Coast Guard provide further information on the documents, including a list of people involved in the creation and dissemination of them, a list of people who received them and a list of all meetings where the documents were involved and the names of those who attended.

At a December hearing on Operation Fouled Anchor, Blumenthal and Johnson said they are willing to issue a subpoena to Coast Guard officials if cooperation in the subpanel’s investigation stops. At that time, the Coast Guard had not provided documents as informative as those released this month.

The report’s existence only became known to the Senate subpanel and the public after reporters with CNN obtained a copy last year. Only then did the Coast Guard officials brief Congress about the report.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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