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Coast Guard chief testifies in sexual assault investigation

Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that she was taking action in response to reports of poorly conducted investigations into sexual assault cases.

WASHINGTON DC, DC — U.S. Coast Guard Chief Admiral Linda Fagan testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill at the second Senate hearing on reports that the Coast Guard Academy in New London mishandled sexual assault investigations.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and ranking member of the Senate committee, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), say Coast Guard leadership has failed to comply with the investigation, and both say the “culture of cover-up” continues.

“This situation requires ruthless truth-finding,” said Blumenthal. “We would like more cooperation from the Coast Guard.”

Previously, the Coast Guard Academy was reportedly unable to release the results of an internal sexual misconduct investigation called “Operation Fouled Anchor,” which found that dozens of sexual assault cases were mishandled at the academy between 1988 and 2006.

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However, lawmakers say that this is not a problem of the past, but that these problems still exist.

“The Coast Guard continues to suffer from a culture of obfuscation and cover-up,” Blumenthal added.

The committee stated that the Coast Guard did not produce the requested documents until the day before the hearing and “unloaded” thousands of mostly redacted pages.

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They also pointed to Shannon Norenberg, director of the sexual contraception division at New London Academy, who resigned just days before the second hearing. Norenberg says officials asked her to lie to survivors and Congress.

Admiral Fagan insisted Tuesday afternoon that the Coast Guard was taking action.

“I cannot change the past,” Fagan said. “I remain committed to sustainable cultural change.”

She says the Coast Guard has allocated more resources and is following up on the investigation, but as of Tuesday afternoon there was significant disagreement between the admiral and senators about what that follow-up and appropriate action should look like.

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“We speak with victims of sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy almost daily,” said Christine Dunn, a partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, who is representing some of the victims. “At today’s hearing, they expected answers and for the Coast Guard to take responsibility. Instead, the commandant spouted platitudes that had no real substance or plan to bring justice to the victims.”

Johnson said the committee would issue subpoenas if it did not receive all the documents and information requested, adding that there would be further hearings.

Both he and Blumenthal continued to call for “truth, transparency and accountability” and suggested that a “change in leadership” may be necessary.

The PSI will shortly publish a preliminary report on this investigation.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook, X And Instagram.

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