U.S. Coast Guard blasted for renewing permit of Filipino accused of shipboard rape
More than a year after a merchant marine student said she was raped by a ship supervisor, Edgar Sison, while she was training at sea, U.S. Coast Guard officials filed administrative charges against the accused, but only for alleged alcohol violations.
The move came a day after CNN reported that the Coast Guard had not taken any disciplinary actions against Sison and had even renewed his government-issued credential allowing him to work aboard another ship.
Filing alcohol violation charges apparently allows the Coast Guard to move toward revoking Sison’s credential while waiting for the Department of Justice to decide on possible criminal charges on the alleged rape.
Sison said he had no comment on the Coast Guard’s action or CNN’s investigation
Hope Hicks was a 19-year-old senior at the US Merchant Marine Academy when trainer Sison allegedly plied her with alcohol during a party with other crew members and raped her in her room after she passed out.
Hicks sparked a Me Too movement in the commercial shipping industry by coming forward with her story, first anonymously online and then to Coast Guard investigators, CNN reported.
Hicks and other mariners have criticized the Coast Guard for not moving faster to investigate and temporarily remove accused sexual predators from ships.
CNN’s investigation found that over the past decade, the Coast Guard hadn’t revoked a single credential for shipboard sexual misconduct.
Yet mariners who have failed drug tests after using marijuana and even CBD oil have been stripped of their ability to work on ships.
More than 25 mariners were given credentials allowing them to continue working aboard commercial ships after being convicted of sex crimes including rape, sexual battery, sexual assault and child molestation, the CNN investigation found.
Maersk’s US subsidiary said in February 2022 that it had fired Sison for refusing to participate in an internal investigation.
But Hicks told CNN that she was outraged to learn that Sison has been allowed to work on another ship.
“This industry is not safe, and the Coast Guard must do more,” she said, expressing frustration that she had to go to the news agency instead of relying on the Coast Guard to get a measure of justice.
Sison’s union, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, has said that labor laws have kept the union from temporarily suspending Sison’s membership without any information or action from the Coast Guard.