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Coast Guard: Recruits Were Sexually Harassed In NJ

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A Coast Guard helicopter flying over sea.  (credit: Erik Simonsen/GettyImages)

A Coast Guard helicopter flying over sea. (credit: Erik Simonsen/GettyImages)

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Coast Guard officer who abused his authority and sexually harassed four women recruits at a training facility in New Jersey was sentenced Wednesday to one year confinement.

Chief Petty Officer Carlos Resendez pleaded guilty at Coast Guard Legal Service Command in Virginia to a series of charges involving his time as a company commander at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in New Jersey, where 83 percent of the Guard’s recruits pass through. A company commander is similar to a drill sergeant in the Army.

Resendez’ guilty plea comes as another branch of the military is still reeling from its own sex scandal involving recruits. The military ousted the top commander over the basic training unit at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas after investigators found dozens of female recruits were sexually assaulted or harassed by their male instructors.

“We will not tolerate any actions that violate that trust and confidence or the high moral and ethical standards we demand of our training staff,” Capt. Bill Kelly, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, said in a statement.

Resendez sexually harassed women recruits and had sex with one of them, the Coast Guard said. He pleaded guilty to maltreatment of subordinates, adultery and failure to obey a lawful order. He will spend a year in confinement and his rank was reduced to the lowest enlisted grade.

The Coast Guard declined to make Resendez available for comment.

Resendez was most recently stationed at Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, Calif., where he served as an indoctrination instructor until allegations against him were brought by two former recruits in April 2011. He was reassigned to administrative duties during the investigation involving two women. A nationwide investigation revealed two more victims, according to Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska, a spokesman for Coast Guard Training Center Cape May.

Resendez will initially be held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Va.

Kelly said the training center has gone to great lengths to prevent similar harassment by “improving our recruit standard operating procedures, ensuring the highest level of training and oversight for our company commanders and educating our recruits early and often about Coast Guard civil rights, sexual harassment and sexual assault policies.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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