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Lawmakers meet Coast Guard over academy harassment concerns

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation have met with Coast Guard officials to express their concerns over alleged discrimination and harassment at the service’s academy.

Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney requested the meeting, which took place with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz and his senior staff in Murphy’s office on Thursday.

A recent Office of the Inspector General report found Coast Guard officials failed to protect a black female officer who made discrimination and harassment complaints against her superiors, The Day reported . The report was the impetus for the meeting, according to Courtney.

The lawmakers spoke with Schultz about their ongoing request for documents related to allegations of bullying and harassment at the Coast Guard Academy and whether the academy took appropriate action in past cases. They also suggested how to address culture issues there.

Officials declined to detail what the suggestions were.

Schultz said in a statement Thursday that he “welcomed the opportunity” to sit down with the lawmakers.

“The recent IG report has my full attention,” he said. “No one in the Coast Guard should ever face bullying, harassment or retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. We will protect whistleblowers.”

But Murphy said he’s concerned the New London-based academy has not fundamentally changed its culture. “I think there’s increasing, not decreasing, concern about what has been happening at the academy,” Murphy said by phone Thursday after the meeting.

“It’s not enough to issue new guidelines or more training; if real wrongdoing occurred, there needs to be accountability,” he said.

Blumenthal also called for accountability and said that he thought the Coast Guard recognized that need.

Ahead of the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, incoming chairs of key oversight committees have indicated they are intent on maintaining focus on the inspector general report, Courtney said.

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