Coast Guard investigates rape allegations

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April 6, 2007

3:48 PM

__Academy students claim they would not report assault by fellow cadets__

p. According to a task force report released last week, nearly 25 percent of cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut said that they would not report a fellow classmate who committed sexual assault.

p. Created last year after cadet Webster Smith was tried for rape and later acquitted, the task force recommended that the Coast Guard refocus on building leadership and character.

p. “The academy lost its focus on the reason it exists, and what makes it different from other colleges: officership,” the task force said in a New York Times article. “Officership is that unique blend of skill, expertise and personal integrity required of a Coast Guard officer as a military professional — as a leader of character, servant of the nation, defender of the Constitution and exemplar of its ideals.”

p. In the survey conducted by the task force, 13 of the nearly 1,000 cadets claimed they were victims of sexual assault or attempted rape in the last year, with nine women and four men reporting. Nearly one quarter, or 23 percent, of the cadets said they would never report other cadets who committed sexual assault. Sixty-five percent said they would allow personal loyalty to affect their decision to report sexual assault, the Times reported.

p. While the task force pointed out positive things such as a strong academic atmosphere, athletic success and the strong record of cadets after graduation, it said these points ignored problems concerning leadership and cadets’ continued irresponsible behavior.

p. Most cadets also did not trust or respect their company officers, the article said, and they expressed cynicism about the Coast Guard, hurting the academy mission.

p. In response to the survey, the task force also recommended creating a cadet development program to help build character.

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