A CNN investigation has revealed that former Commandant of the US Coast Guard (USCG), Karl L. Schultz, allegedly covered up an investigation into rapes and sexual assaults at the agency’s academy four years ago. This revelation comes amidst ongoing efforts by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to combat sexual assault within the armed forces.
The USCG Academy has reported the highest number of sexual assaults among the service academies since the DoD began tracking the issue in 2006. In 2023, one in five female students at the USCG Academy reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact.
In 2019, the USCG commissioned a study called “Operation Fouled Anchor” to explore the issue of sexual assault at the academy. The final report, which was completed in 2019 but only reached the public’s attention in June 2023, concluded that there were significant problems. However, no charges were recommended due to the statute of limitations and limitations of evidence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Former Commandant Schultz and his deputy, Admiral Charles W. Ray, allegedly concealed the report and did not disclose the information to Congress or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which governs the USCG and Merchant Marine. Policies were reportedly implemented to keep the report secret, including requiring officials with access to case materials to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Following CNN’s reporting, demands have been made for the USCG Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the cover-up and for the Coast Guard to be held accountable for the delay in bringing the information to light.
The actions of Admirals Schultz and Ray have sparked outrage within the Coast Guard community, with retired officers expressing their frustration. To ensure justice, some are calling for both Admirals to be recalled to active service and court-martialed under Article 133 or Article 134 of the UCMJ, which pertain to conduct unbecoming an officer.
Commandant Schultz retired in June 2022, while Vice Commandant Ray retired in June 2021. Admiral Linda Fagan, the current Commandant and the first female to lead the USCG, now faces the challenge of addressing the allegations and their impact on the Coast Guard’s reputation.