More than a year after a US Merchant Marine Academy midshipman came forward about how she was raped by her supervisor while she was training at sea aboard a US-flagged vessel, the US Coast Guard is targeting the alleged perpetrator’s ability from working on merchant ships.
CNN reported today that seaman Edgar Sison was sued for alleged alcohol violations in connection with the rape allegations. The Coast Guard is seeking to suspend Sison’s government-issued merchant shipping license for a year pending a Justice Department decision on possible criminal charges.
Former Midshipman Hope Hicks first shared her story in an anonymous blog post, alleging that she was administered alcohol and raped by a supervisor while she was aboard a Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) vessel during her Sea Year training as an engineer cadet. served. She became known in the industry as “Midshipman-X” before eventually revealing her identity through a now-settled civil lawsuit against MLL, a subsidiary of Danish shipping giant Maersk.
Her story sparked a “me too” movement in the shipping industry and encouraged others – both men and women – to come forward with their own stories of sexual assault and harassment at sea.
According to the CNN report, the Coast Guard criminal investigation into Hicks’ allegation was turned over to the Justice Department in early 2022, but no prosecution decision has been made so far. Typically, the Coast Guard waits for a criminal case to be resolved before taking administrative action, so alcohol abuse charges allow them to pursue Sison’s identification without jeopardizing the criminal investigation, CNN said in its report.
Another recent CNN report highlighted Hicks’ long wait for Coast Guard action, revealing the agency’s decade-long failure to prevent and punish sexual assault. The report found that the Coast Guard had not revoked a single ID for sexual misconduct on board in the past decade, while seafarers who failed drug tests for offenses such as marijuana or CBD oil had their IDs revoked, preventing them from doing so were to work in the commercial sector ships.
Hicks and other seafarers have criticized the Coast Guard for not acting more quickly to investigate and remove potential predators from ships. Hicks expressed relief to CNN that something is finally being done, but believes it should have happened sooner.
The Coast Guard complaint against Sison alleges that he violated company policy by possessing and consuming alcohol. CNN said Sison and his attorney did not comment on the complaint or the investigation.