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Conn. Probes Coast Guard Cadet’s Penalty

February 24, 2006

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut authorities are investigating why a U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet who admitted sexual misconduct was not prosecuted and was instead kicked out of school.

The victim received medical treatment in October, including emergency contraceptives and medication for sexually transmitted disease, hospital records show. The male cadet was expelled from school in December after admitting ``nonconsensual sexual misconduct,″ according to an academy discipline summary.

``We’re looking into how this matter was handled,″ said New London State’s Attorney Kevin Kane. He would not discuss whether he believes he has jurisdiction to bring state charges in the case.

A message seeking comment on the investigation was left Friday with an academy spokesman.

In an interview this week, Capt. Douglas Wisniewski, the commandant of cadets, said the Coast Guard investigated the woman’s assault allegations. He would not discuss specifics but said prosecution requires more evidence than is needed for academy disciplinary decisions.

Kane’s investigation comes a week after another cadet, Webster Smith, was charged by the military with raping or assaulting six classmates.

Days later, a former cadet claimed academy administrators suggested she was to blame when she accused another student of assault.

There are more Coast Guard cadets, active and former, with similar stories, said Kate Summers, service director for the Miles Foundation, an advocacy group for women in the military.

Summers said the foundation has been contacted by cadets who feel they were mistreated when they made claims and by victims who did not make allegations for fear of reprisal.

In civilian courtrooms, she said, nonconsensual sexual misconduct is considered sexual assault. Because the academy handles most cases internally, Summers said, cadets often do not get criminal records and are not registered as sex offenders.

In 2004, the Air Force Academy came under scrutiny when nearly 150 former cadets said they were assaulted. A Pentagon review found hostile attitudes toward women at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy.

The New London-based Coast Guard Academy was not included in that review because it is not part of the Defense Department.

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