ST. PETERSBURG — Fallout from a series of sexually charged Coast Guard hazing incidents is continuing, with more disciplinary action possibly to come.
Seven current and former crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Venturous, based in St. Petersburg, were disciplined for participating in the hazing over a two-year period, according to the Coast Guard.
Some current and former crew members also will be subjected to lesser administrative action, said Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Frederick. That procedure is ongoing and it is unclear how many others are involved, he said.
Crew members were tied down, stripped, coated in foreign substances and called derogatory names, and some were subjected to inappropriate sexual contact, said Frederick. He declined to elaborate.
The hazing happened aboard the Venturous between summer 2007 and winter 2009. Seven Coast Guard members were court-martialed, and one will be forced to register as a sex offender and thrown out of the Coast Guard.
Hazing is very rare in the Coast Guard, said Frederick, and such allegations are treated seriously.
“That’s not an excuse,” he said. “If it happens once, we need to do something about it and fix it.”
In a letter to all Atlantic Coast Guard units, Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, commander of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic area, lamented the hazing incident and how long it took the Coast Guard to find out about it.
“That it took so long for these actions to come to light is particularly concerning to me,” he said.
He said the events in this hazing incident were very similar to those that happened aboard a cutter in 1998, which he said were believed to have been eradicated.
“Clearly, that is not the case,” Parker said in the message.
Many of those victimized in the hazing events have since left the service, he said.
The hazing happened “on a very regular basis” but only when the ship was at sea, Frederick said. Frederick refused to say how many times the hazing took place or how many people were hazed.
The Coast Guard began investigating after two former crew members stepped forward with the allegations. More than 180 people were interviewed during a two-year investigation.
The 210-foot Venturous had a crew of 75, but had substantial turnover during the time the hazing occurred.
The highest-ranking crew member involved was Chief Petty Officer Kiel M. Johanson, who was tried in Norfolk, Va. He was found guilty of maltreatment, abusive sexual contact, indecent exposure and assault consummated by a battery.
He will be thrown out of the Coast Guard and will have to register as a sex offender. He does not face any time behind bars, Frederick said.
Two Coast Guard petty officers were court-martialed in Clearwater.
Petty officers 2nd class Nicholas Mackey and John R. Dippery, both based in Pinellas County, pleaded guilty earlier this year.
Their punishments include demotion, pay reduction and movement restriction. Both will be kicked out of the Coast Guard.
The remaining crew members involved in the hazing are based at locations across the United States.