Charleston-based Coast Guardsman charged in 8 sex assaults

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Coast Guardsman stationed in Charleston and accused in a sexual assault case will face a court martial on Monday in Charleston.

According to a release from the U.S. Coast Guard, 35-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar Gomez was charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice for his alleged part in sexual misconduct against two civilian and six Coast Guard women.

The Coast Guard alleges the misconduct ranges from inappropriate comments to rape.

The investigation began after a reported sexual assault last September aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, which is based in Charleston. Officials say that led to other cases ranging from the Seattle area to Honduras and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Gomez was formerly assigned to Gallatin and has been administratively assigned to another unit in South Carolina, officials said Friday.

A charge related to an alleged 2006 rape will not be pursued because the victim decided not to participate in legal proceedings, the Coast Guard said.

"We are committed to ensuring the victims of sexual assault receive all the support and treatment they need, that their privacy is protected, and that military justice is conducted in a timely, objective and fair process," Vice Adm. Robert Parker said. "We remain steadfast in our efforts to change attitudes, behavior and cultures that have allowed the crime of sexual assault to damage the lives of our shipmates."

The Pentagon released a report in May estimating that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year and that thousands of victims are unwilling to come forward despite new oversight and assistance programs.

That figure is an increase over the 19,000 estimated assaults in 2011.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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