Sexual assault allegations against two students at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy have escalated to court-martial proceedings.
As readers may recall, there is a chain-of-command in military investigations. A commanding officer often has the discretion on how allegations of misconduct or criminal behavior are handled. Not every complaint progresses to a criminal proceeding, for example.
In this case, the allegations were first lodged with local police. However, the police stopped their civil investigation after learning of the military status of the accused. The police brought the case to the attention of the superintendent of the academy, and the Coast Guard officially assumed jurisdiction.
Unlike civilians facing a criminal trial, a military member facing a court-martial is not necessarily confined or imprisoned. The cadets in this case are not in pretrial confinement while awaiting their separate court-martial cases. However, the academy superintendent recommended the suspension of one of the two cadets, and the other cadet was reassigned to the Coast Guard’s yard in Baltimore.
The military criminal charges that each cadet is facing are very serious. One cadet is charged with sexual assault by impairment. A conviction could result in a prison sentence up to 30 years, complete forfeiture of pay and dismissal from the Coast Guard. The other cadet is facing charges of sexual assault by lack of consent, as well as conduct unbecoming of an officer and extortion. Conviction under the sexual assault charge could also result in 30 years of confinement, as well as pay forfeiture and disenrollment.
The Coast Guard will likely try the court-martial cases at one of its two major legal command centers, where expert justice practitioners are located. With so much at stake, the cadets will need an aggressive defense strategy. Our law firm has the experience to handle such challenges.
Source: The Day, “2 Coast Guardsmen face court-martial,” Julia Bergman, Sept. 9, 2016