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December 16, 2022

Chairman Thompson Writes Coast Guard on its Failure to Properly Handle Sexual Assault Case

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Admiral Linda Fagan, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, regarding the Coast Guard’s disturbing failure to respond appropriately to sexual assault allegations made by a Coast Guard trainee, Mr. Ke’ha Maldonado, during his time in basic training at Training Center (TRACEN) Cape May in 2018. Mr. Maldonado bravely shared his story with the Committee as a whistleblower and has agreed to have his name shared publicly.

As detailed in the letter, the Coast Guard failed to follow established policies in handling of Mr. Maldonado’s report of sexual assault. These include failures to provide Mr. Maldonado victim’s assistance as required, failure to submit a Sexual Assault Incident Report form within 72 hours as required, and failure to fully respond to the Committee’s request for information. Additionally, the Coast Guard proceeded with discharging Mr. Maldonado from the service only eight days after he reported a sexual assault, leaving him without access to appropriate trauma care. Furthermore, it was revealed that the Coast Guard tolerated inappropriate behavior at the Cape May facility and allowed it to perpetuate.

“Mr. Maldonado has expressed to the Committee that he has suffered severely in the aftermath of his reported assault due to the Coast Guard’s actions,” the Chairman wrote. “Unfortunately, his case and others like it reinforce the perception that the Coast Guard does not take sexual assault seriously or enforce meaningful accountability for those in the chain of command who are responsible for protecting service members.  Furthermore, there continues to be a reluctance from the Coast Guard to express remorse to victims, even in cases with clear-cut violations of policy such as those seen in this case.”

In the letter, Chairman Thompson requests Admiral Fagan review the Committee’s findings, as well as seven recommendations, to ensure accountability and prevent the Coast Guard from falling short in responding to future reports of sexual assault.

Link to letter

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