A witness speaks out. United States Coast Guard

John, United States Coast Guard

We had a woman come on our base from another unit where she reported a rape. Before she even made it to our unit everyone knew why she was being transferred and we were told to stay away from her cause we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation that would have her accusing us of rape.

She was assigned to work at the on-base coffee shop and I saw her every morning when I went to get my coffee. Over time I would have small talk with her and she was very quiet and reserved but you can tell that she was a very nice person and not the “lying, crazy whore that was raped” that everyone made her out to be but I still kept my distance and only talked to her a  few minutes each morning.

All the buildings on base are connected to each other through walkways. One afternoon I was walking to another building and saw a group of Coast Guardsmen in one corner of the walkway towards the building. When I looked closer I saw the woman surrounded by the men crying telling them to leave her alone. They were calling her a “crazy, lying whore” and telling her that she will pay for “snitching on their friend” and one said that “you are hot, I’ll love to rape you too”. I made my presence noticed by asking what is going on here and soon all the men backed off and acted like they were not doing anything wrong. They greeted me and left. The woman, her uniform ripped up and her in tears ran off the opposite direction.  I couldn’t even ask her if she was okay but she was obviously very shaken up.

I went straight to the Coast Guard Investigative Office on base to report what happened and the special agent told me that he knows who I am talking about and that the “investigation is a mess” and it is best that I do “not get involved”.   I was forced to leave. Christine Sullivan and Patricia Tutalo from work life was not any better. I knew that if I pushed the issue that my career would be in jeopardy.

Soon after she transferred out of the coffee shop and sent to work in another department and did not see her as often. Then one day she disappeared assuming she got discharged or transferred.

A couple of years later I was on-line and read something about a woman writing about her rape in the Coast Guard. She talked about being placed to work at the on-base coffee shop and made mention of being told “you are hot, i’ll love to rape you too” and I knew that it was the same woman. I tracked her down on facebook and sent her a message. She was a bit hesitant  at first, I would be too but over time we started to talk. I saw this on facebook and decided to submit my story to get another perspective of what is happening in our military.

Some of us do want to help but we are threatened by special agents or military police that we should “mind our own business” and our jobs are on the line if we do not. Now that I am out of the Coast Guard I can speak more freely. I do wonder at time how her story will be different if I spoke up and tried to help her.

I hope one day that she can submit her own story but for now this is how I witnessed what happened to her. I am a father, a husband and a brother and one of the women in my life were brutally raped and I know how rape affects victims and their families.

24 comments

  1. As I wrote just now on FB: I found John’s story of interest because several years ago, I saw a posting on MySpace from a Coastie who had been raped. Reading John’s recollections makes me think that it might have been the same woman who’s story I read online (if it’s not, then this shows a systematic method of handling rape in the Coast Guard, as you’ll see). I went to the Command Master Chief and was told that she was crazy and not fit for military service. At that point, she had been transferred to one of our large support centers as “sick, lame, lazy” and was being proceseed for discharge. Sadly, I did not go to the mat on the issue. I regret this lack of diligence on my part. I did not stand for Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

  2. Thank you, John, and others like you. :) The only reason my perpetrator was never granted a clearance was because of someone like you who anonymously called the offices granting clearances and told them to specifically call NCIS regarding a rape investigation. Not only had my command tried to hide the investigation, but they also went out of their way to try to find the nice person who anonymously called in the TRUTH, because they wanted to punish that person. Luckily for that good Samaritan, nobody ever found out who it was.

    I am truly grateful for the existence of people like you.

  3. I guess I have a different feel for this story. First, glad you went to CGIS, to find out, but maybe you should ask what is the problem, how can she get help. And, you still back off because your career was more important then helping this woman who not only raped by another Coast Guard, but also raped by the system.

    So, many of us have had this reaction by others, that we asked for it, that we are whores,stay away from her etc…, when does it stop and when do we get people to stand up for us.

    I would have been glad to have put my career on the line and I did many times while I served, because I wanted to make it better for women who would put that uniform on. I am not ready to tell my story, but a lot happened to me in my career.

    We are not making this up and are not out to get any one’s career.

    Remember those who rape and get away with it, will do the same, these rapists are getting a pass, because of the silence, they live near your wives, your children.

    And basically what we are being bullied into in silence.

    One more thing if you heard that threat of rape and saw her condition, you know you could have put that person on report, which would have resulted in Captains Mast.

    “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me– and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

  4. First of all thank you for approving this post. I was not sure if it fits into your guidelines of stories that you were looking for since I am not the rape survivor but I know what I saw that day and the way that the Coast Guard pretended that it did not happen. What I witnessed in that walkway was a clear retaliation for her reporting a rape in her previous unit. If the way CGIS handled her rape allegations were any similar to how they dealt with the assault in the walkway then I know for certain that she never had a fair chance of ever receiving justice.

    Looking back now I regret not doing and saying more. I was straight out told by Lt. Patricia Tutalo, director of worklife and Christine Sullivan, a civilian social worker that works for the Coast Guard that my career would be in jeopardy. The word on base was that she was a “crazy, lying whore” and in all honesty I was not sure if that was true or not. Yes, I spoken to her and she seemed nice but at the same time I did not know her very well.

    As I said I did track her down a couple of years later and now we talk regularly and everyone in the Coast Guard were dead wrong about her. She is the smartest, nicest, kindest and hard working woman that you are ever going to meet. I got to hear her side of what happened when she was raped and saw photos of her injuries (black eye, broken tooth, etc..) and she is NOT a woman was lying about being raped. She was indeed rape and the Coast Guard did nothing to help her. I know many of you know who I am talking about and you’ll agree about how awesome of a persons she is but for her privacy I am not going to mention her name.

    If I can go back and do it all again I would probably push this case further to help her. I think that the Coast Guard was dead set on making sure that the rape was covered up so it won’t show up in their stats but I certainly would have spoken to her more and be her friend cause everyone, and I do mean everyone were told to stay away from her cause she is the “rape victim”. That is not how we are suppose to treat our own shipmates.

  5. Let me see if I got this right. You saw this woman pushed against a doorway or wall, they were obviously touching her since they ripped her uniform and they were saying provocative words and threats of a sexual nature. She obviously did not want it since she was clearly saying to leave her alone and was in tears. WHAT YOU WITNESSED WAS A SEXUAL ASSAULT.

    So she was raped at one unit. They sent her to another unit where she was sexually assaulted cause she reported a rape. The Coast Guard did NOTHING in both cases even with a witness in the sexual assault case and physical evidence in the rape case? This f*cking pisses me off so much.

  6. Kaitlyn you beat me to it. What John witnessed was a sexual assault. CGIS did not do anything about her rape allegations and did not do anything about the sexual assault even with a witness. This was happening on a military base in broad daylight. What were going to happen if he did not pass by. Was the next step gang raping her? They were tearing off her uniform for a reason and restyling it was not it. Poor girl. This is very disturbing.

  7. But, you had a chance do something, you should have taken her over to medical or the civilian police. You had many choices, but to me and what you have written here your career was more important. You have a lot of excuses, the Coast Guard wanted to cover up the rape, they said to stay away from her, she was lazy, a whore, and that was all you needed not to help her. But it doesn’t change the fact you heard and saw an assault and you know Military Code of Conduct, Military Code of Justice, laws were broken right in front of you and you’ll never know if she would have gotten justice, because you did what they said and backed off. If you would have brought charges it would have all been in the Coast Guard face. And at least for what happened to her from that assault that you saw, maybe she would have gotten a little justice.

  8. I know the woman which whom John is speaking about. The Coast Guard made her out to be, and probably all other rape survivors as being mentally unstable, crazy, and not worthy of being called “a shipmate”.

    The rape that she went through was brutal and the way that the Coast Guard treated her after reporting the rape was considerably worse than the rape itself.

    The Coast Guard does jump to conclusions over the personality of a victim. John said that people were ordered to not speak to her so how in the world can they say that they know her well enough to pass judgment on her?

    Having known her for several years I can say that she is very caring, intelligent and hard working individual. She is probably saner than 95% of the Coast Guard. Calling your shipmates crazy, lying, whores is crazy behavior. Telling a man who witnessed a crime that if he pursues the case that he’ll be out of a job is crazy behavior. Not helping one of your own who been RAPED is crazy. This woman is not crazy but those that did all those things to her are. Lt. Patricia Tutalo, Gregg Marsili, Brad Hanson, Joseph Segalla, Scott Keene, I can name all the names that you want. Those are the CRAZY psychotic people that treated a woman lower than dirt for being a victim and helped at least one man be set free. If what John witnessed was actually sexual assault like some say then helping more than one man go unpunished.

    Everyone that shared their stories on here thank you soo much. My daughter was raped as well and she may not be at the point to share her own story but she is reading them all and it helps her put her own rape in perspective in that what they did/said to her in the military was nothing personal but how they treat ALL rape survivors.

  9. Thank you for writing this, and you’re right it’s a different perspective of what goes on. You’re a good man and it’s a great thing that you tried to help this woman.

  10. Thank you. As a sister, daughter, rape survivor, and relative of servicemembers.

    How many men do you know who’d step up like you did? Can you get in touch with them? What would it take for them to say something?

    That’s the eternal question. What will it take to say something? Safety is one thing, as you indicated — you couldn’t speak out before retirement.

    Anybody else?

  11. why are you thanking him, HE DID NOTGHING. He saw her getting attacked, yes he says he tired to report it, but backed off when told to, his career was more important.
    You could have brought charges against the, but your career was important.

    She had no one to her in this battle, then you saw what happened, maybe she thought, no they will believe, but your career was more important. Would if she would have killed herself? Oh, but your career was more important.

    I went after a captain for he did and my career was still there, even if they would have done something, I did not care, I took that responsibility to help someone who needed it and did not back off.

    no thank you from me, because you did not help her, your career came first.

    A witness is someone who has first hand knowledge about a crime or significant event through his or her senses (e.g. seeing, hearing, smelling, touching) and can help certify important considerations about the crime or event. A witness who has seen the event first hand is known as an eyewitness. You were an eyewitness and you did NOTHING.

  12. Patricia Tutalo-ignoring sexual assault allegations even from a witness? Seriously what the fuck is wrong with that woman? Add this to the list of screw ups that psycho was part of. Can she do anything right or is she hiding out in the Coast Guard cause she can not function in the real world?

  13. It is refreshing to see a man that actually tried to stand up for a rape victim. Ideally yes he would have continued to push for justice but the Coast Guard makes it impossible for them to do so. I have witnessed 08 women who came forward with rape and they were all viewed as being crazy and lying about the rape. They all had the same sadness in their eye. Two of them broke down in tears in my office and I know that they were telling the truth. All eight of them left the Coast Guard because they were kicked out and all eight of the alleged rapists were never punished.
    I am a victim advocate and we try to help the victims but it is impossible. My latest rape victim I tried to advocate for her and the response from everyone around me is why help her, she is crazy and has lied about being raped. CGIS investigated and found that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. She is trying to ruin a man’s career, she is psycho, I heard it all. Just because a rape is never prosecuted does not mean that the victim was lying. I am trying to tell them that but it is like talking to a wall.

  14. YNC thank you for helping these women.
    But, I disagree with you about John, he did nothing, he could have gone up the Chain of Command, being a man, he is less likely to be put aside. He could have done a lot of things to have helped. When you stand up for someone you don’t stop at the first roadblock, you find a way around it.

  15. YNC thank you for helping these women.
    But, I disagree with you about John, he did nothing, he could have gone up the Chain of Command, being a man, he is less likely to be put aside. He could have done a lot of things to have helped. When you stand up for someone you don’t stop at the first roadblock, you find a way around it.

  16. I am with SK on this one. If I was in John’s boots I would have fought until she received some justice. She was all alone and needed help. I can not even imagine the emotional problems that she has now.

  17. Who is John? Was he an E-2 or an E-9. If he was lower ranking he was going to be ignored no matter what. If he was E-7 or above then he could fought a bit more but she was never going to receive justice. Until Papp here does something to take rape seriously we are going to continue to hear the same stories for years to come.

    Witnesses afraid to come forward should be looked at as a being a problem. Are there any protections for witnesses? Cause right now as it stands I have not seen any help for those that want to help. The reputation of the victim is automatically destroyed and I feel that it is deliberate to prevent others from helping her. Nobody wants to help the woman that is crazy and ‘lied’ about being raped. However chances are she is sane and not lying.

    Now that I know about Panayiota and her organization I will be referring people to her. I have seen first hand what the Coast Guard have done to too many rape victims and SAPR is not a safe program for rape survivors.

  18. Not surprising knowing Christine Sullivan was involved and nothing happening! She sympathizes to your face and then goes behind your back and does otherwise. I wasn’t in her office for sexual assault reasons (although I had experiences of such while being stationed on a 270). My XO at the time was verbally abusive with me over medical findings that suggested it would not be safe for me to get underway (a cyst in the middle of my spinal cord that was thought if ruptured would paralyze me). I worked hard (fought through some rough times thrown at me) to have a good reputation only to have it yanked out from underneath me for something I later found out to be a pissing contest between medical and my ships command. I got caught in the middle, my career stripped away. Anytime I would try to talk to anyone, I was told I was making a fool of myself and that I should have kept my mouth shut.

    As for the sexual assault on the 270. I never reported it because from the minute I walked on board there was a group of guys and one girl making bets to see who could take the fresh meat (me) down first. The HSC on board was the ring leader. I already knew I couldn’t win against them.

    My heart goes out to these girls! I understand how frustrating it can be! I wasn’t right mentally for a long time. But thankfully I gained a husband out of the mess. He’s knows the skeletons in my closet and for some insane reason loves me anyways!

    Thank you for trying to do something, John!

    1. I have to disagree with you Sparks. JOHN DID NOTHING NOTHING, stop filling him with thanks he doesn’t deserve. His career was more important and he could have done more…. as with a lot of people in the Coast Guard it is more important to get good marks than stick you neck out. Give credit to a woman who went through hell and had to go work everyday, she is the one deserving of all of these words, she is the one who went through hell, like all of us on here and we come here to tell our stories and support each other. and we are not girls and were not girls when we were raped, sexually assaulted and harassed, we are women.
      But, at least you gained a husband out of the mess.

      1. SK – I can respect your opinion, understand your passion to defend, and sense the pain in your writing! I apologize if my use of the word girl offends you. I use that word as a reflection of how I saw myself when I was assaulted by my shipmates on the 270. I was only 21 at the time. Naive and scared out of my mind. I realize that girl does not apply for all, so I do apologize for that part.

        As for my statement about my husband, I felt dirty, used, messed up, and unlovable. His love, support, and dealing with flashbacks during any kind of intimacy is what helped with tremendous healing. Something I wish for all the men and women who have been through such horrific acts.

  19. Hey Sparks, even at 21 you are not a girl, but a woman, being a girl stops at age 13. When I say this it is for empowerment and respect, something that is not handed out in the CG to women… And, I am sorry about the comment about your husband, wish you added it in your first post. I guess I just remember that a lot of women who went in that is the reason they did just to look for a husband. He must be a different kind of man, because of his support and his love for you, that is great.. Hope you are getting help and put a claim in for disability…. I don’t think you were being naive, they were being abusive to you and don’t deserve anything good in life….
    Are you still in? I know I would have taken their names and reported them, he didn’t do that and he back off because of his career was being threaten. Better yet I would have called the police and had them arrested. It would be the same as walking down a street and seeing someone being attacked, I couldn’t walk away even if it meant me being hurt. One thing I learned no one is left behind and always have your shipments back, team work. I would get harassed all the time because I would help other women and report things that were not allowed, never once did it cross my mind that I was going to hurt my career that was least of my worries. I wanted to make it better for women for when they joined. And it seems to me women don’t stick together when they are serving. I also find that we isolate when we are out because I think we are still scared and don’t trust the system or others.

    Thanks for understand and Peace my friend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s