Published February 04. 2014 6:00PM Updated February 05. 2014 1:18PM
New London — A cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is accused of breaking into a dorm room and sexually abusing another cadet.
An academy spokesman said the alleged incident occurred in mid-September in the Chase Hall barracks.
The accused cadet is suspected of violating Articles 120, 130 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military’s criminal code, which prohibit abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry. The charges were preferred, or formally initiated, and then served to the accused on Monday.
A military attorney, or judge advocate general, will now conduct an Article 32 investigation to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial.
The academy would not identify the gender of either cadet involved. Capt. Eric C. Jones, the academy’s assistant superintendent, said that while Article 120 includes rape, in this case, “the alleged offense is not rape.”
The academy is sending the accused off campus to work at another Coast Guard unit while the process moves forward, Jones said in an interview Tuesday. The alleged victim is taking classes and using the support services on campus.
Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, the academy superintendent, decided to proceed with the Article 32 investigation, Jones said.
This type of investigation has often been compared to grand jury proceedings in the civilian judicial system since both are concerned with determining whether there is sufficient probable cause to believe a crime was committed and whether the person accused of the crime committed it. The military investigation, however, is broader in scope and more protective of the accused.
Jones did not release the names of the cadets or many details about the alleged incident, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing. The Coast Guard Investigative Service conducted the initial investigation.
Jones added that the academy is concerned with protecting the rights of the victim and the accused and ensuring the legal process is fair.
“I ask everyone to be patient and not to engage in supposition and rumors,” he said. “As soon as it gets to the point where it’s appropriate to release information directly to the public about the case, we’ll be ready to do that.” An Article 32 hearing is a public hearing.
The only cadet ever court-martialed at the Coast Guard Academy was tried on sexual assault charges in 2006. Webster M. Smith was convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent-assault charges and acquitted of rape.
The Article 32 investigating officer in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial. Stosz, as the convening authority, will decide which path to take.
Jones said he is hoping for a decision within one to three months, but there are legal processes that could extend that timeline.