While the press has focused significant attention on the mishandling of sexual assaults on college campuses and in some branches of the military, the Coast Guard seems to have reacted quickly and properly when a female crew member aboard the ice breaker Polar Star was assaulted while she slept.
Earlier this month a general court-martial at the Coast Guard base in Alameda, California, sentenced Koda M. Harpole to seven years in the brig for sexually attacking the woman in her quarters while the Polar Star was on a port of call in Pape’ete, Tahiti, in late February.
The woman reported the assault to a victim advocate later the same day, after the cutter had left port, the Coast Guard said. The advocate notified the medical officer, who provided treatment. The vessel returned to Pape’ete and the woman was flown to the United States for additional treatment and for interviews by investigators. Harpole was assigned to Base Seattle while an investigation was conducted.
The court-martial board sentenced Harpole for the assault, for housebreaking and for making a false official statement. He received a dishonorable discharge and was reduced in rank. He will serve his sentence at the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Miramar, California.