GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is demanding answers and launching a formal investigation into the Coast Guard Academy’s alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases.

Blumenthal is chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a four-page letter to the Coast Guard’s Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan.

The senators opened a formal inquiry into the U.S. Coast Guard’s alleged lack of transparency and mishandling of dozens of sexual assault cases by high-ranking officials between 1988 and 2006.

“It is probably the most shameful and disgraceful cover-up that I have seen involving sexual assault and rape on the part of any governmental entity,” Blumenthal said. 

The United States senators are seeking all documents, reports, memos, and policies from when the alleged assaults and cover-up took place.

“There’s an old saying that the coverup is sometimes worse than the crime. In this instance the crimes were horrific, dozens of rapes and sexual assaults implicating 43 different people,” Blumenthal said.

In 2014, the Coast Guard began its own investigation into the sexual assault allegations called Operation Fouled Anchor and in 2020 determined these cases were “not properly handled.”

However, Blumenthal said the findings of that investigation were never made public.

“That fact that there was concealment from Congress makes it all the worse,” he said.

The goal of the Senate inquiry is to determine who should be held accountable and whether any of those people are still in positions of power.

Kenisha Farquharson is the Deputy Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

“Survivors often left the military and were forced to deal with the decades-long impact of trauma and those who caused harm ascended to ranks in the Coast Guard and in other military agencies. When institutions are more concerned with their reputation than the safety and well-being of individuals within their communities, trust in those institutions is broken,” Farquharson said. 

News 8 reached out to the US Coast Guard’s Headquarters and Office of Public Affairs for comment in Washington DC, who sent the following statement.

“The Coast Guard received the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ letter, is working to provide available information, and is fully committed to collaborating with Congress to improve accountability and transparency throughout the Service.”

News 8 will continue to follow this story.

For more information on resources and support go to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence’s website.