The Report, is entitled U. S. Coast Guard Academy Comprehensive Climate and Culture Optimization Review Effort. It is a commendable snapshot of the Coast Guard Academy culture. The entire 276 page Report can be found at
U. S. Coast Guard COMMANDANT INSTRUCTION 1754.10C (The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program) has been promulgated. The purpose of the program is to establish policy and prescribe procedures for the Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPRP). The ultimate purpose of this program is to build a culture of prevention, sensitive response and accountability in keeping with the Coast Guard’s values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.
The commandant of cadets, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, took immediate action to initiate the investigation into these allegations.
Sexual misconduct at the USCGA is defined as "acts that disgrace or bring discredit on the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy and are sexual in nature, including lewd or lascivious acts, indecent exposure or homosexual conduct."
The USCGA Superintendent, Admiral James Van Sice, decided to refer the charges against Cadet Smith to a General Court-martial. In his opening statement to the Jury Panel on June 26, 2006 the prosecutor described Cadet Smith as a manipulative senior who preyed on lonely women.
Why was Cadet 1st Class Webster Smith investigated, charged, tried, and convicted? Why must this talented young man register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life? Why did he not find any justice in the military justice system? How could his case go through the entire appeal's process and end up at the United States Supreme Court without being granted any relief? Why would Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security refuse to grant clemency in a case that clearly cries out for justice?
At this point in history when America had come far enough to elect a Black President why was this shining example of the best and the brightest of the African Americans of his generation denied the equal protection of the law? Why was he relegated to the second rail of military justice? On the second rail one receives "almost equal protection". Like much else in the law, equal protection is a myth for America's citizens of color. The myth gives one the illusion of fairness.
Could the answer have anything to do with the nature of the criminal justice system or the definition of crime? Crime is a legal concept, and the law creates the crimes it punishes. But, what creates the criminal law? Behind the law, above it, and surrounding it is our society. Before the law made certain behavior a crime, some aspect of social reality transformed certain behavior into a crime.
Justice is blind in the abstract. It cannot see or act on its own. It cannot create its own morals, principles and rules. That depends on society. Behind every legal determination of "guilty" lies a more powerful and more basic social and societal judgement, a judgement that this type of behavior is not acceptable. This type of behavior deserves to be prohibited and punished. Our society has long chosen to prohibit and punish interracial sex.
After society makes a social judgement that certain behavior, acts, or conduct is wrong, the criminal justice system goes to work. It refines and transforms the list of prohibited acts and behavior. It interprets the list of acts, and does whatever is necessary to catch, convict and punish the lawbreakers.
Bias is inevitable. Crime and punishment are highly charged, emotional, and political subjects. There is no way to wring prejudice, attitude, or race out of the system.
The Webster Smith Story Is An American Tragedy.
The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy. It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family. It is the story of his mother, Belinda; and his father, Cleon; his wife, Lindsey and their daughter; and of his sister and brothers. It is the story of the friends of Webster Smith. They have all been harmed by the violence directed at their son, brother, husband, father and friend.
At the Coast Guard Academy, Webster Smith was a member of the Eclipse, Track Team, Football team, Regimental Staff, and a Swab summer Staff. He represented the Coast Guard in Washington DC concerning fitness and nutrition programs. He received numerous silver stars and never received a demerit prior the incident and investigation in 2005 that led to his court-martial.
To his classmates, teachers, and coaches Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.
Webster Smith had dared to dream some big dreams. Like Alex Haley he had dared to believe that he could rise in the USCG to the highest level to which his talents and initiative could take him.
His parents were middle class African Americans. His father, Cleon Smith, was a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1978 along with Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown.
His mother, Belinda Ingram Smith, believed in God and a good education. After attending college at WSSU for four years she went on to become the first Black female Crime Scene Investigator in the history of the Winston-Salem police Department.
This unbelievable turn about in what had been a Black success story is a singularly American tragedy.
That a cadet so deeply respected and loved by his coaches and classmates could evoke such an outpouring of hate and anger from the senior officers at the Coast Guard Academy is a Coast Guard tragedy and an American tragedy.
All of the female cadets involved with and associated with Webster Smith escaped clean without any consequences for their actions or their behavior. Mother Nature was the only one who exacted a penalty. Natural Law resulted in a pregnancy for his girlfriend. An abortion followed.
If women are equal, they should be treated as equal. Not a single woman was disciplined under the UCMJ or the cadet regulations. All of the female cadets involved in the Webster Smith case graduated and were commissioned as Coast Guard officers. Their testimony at the court-martial painted a picture of female cadets who were untrustworthy, arrogant, and certainly not ladies. Their conduct was unbecoming an officer and a lady. (Read more at http://www.amazon.com/Judge-London-Steverson/e/B006WQKFJM)
These women were witnesses at a public trial yet they were accorded the equivalent of rape shield protection. This was not a rape case. Not one of the women had been raped. There was testimony of consensual sex acts. Some of the consensual sex acts were unlawful because, among other things, they occurred in Chase Hall, or at Academy functions. How could unlawful consensual sex acts result in charges against only one of the participants? It takes two to tango.
Is it wrong for Black people to ask if there is a double standard? Would that amount to paranoia on the part of Black people? Or would that be considered playing the race card simply to inquire? Is it absurd to believe that anything more than pure chance resulted in the court-martial of Webster Smith? The fact that he was court-martialed speaks to a social reality that African-Americans are acutely aware of in America. Race is not a card to be dealt, but it determines whom the dealer is and who gets dealt a losing hand.
According to a 2008 General Accounting Office Report, from 2003 to 2006 there were NO sexual-harassment complaints at the Coast Guard Academy, but there were 12 incidents of sexual assault reported to the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), with one incident in 2003, one in 2004, “NONE” in 2005 and 10 in 2006. It is hard to conceive of the facts relied upon by, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, the Commandant Of Cadets when he asserted in 2005 that there was a climate of fear of sexual assault in Chase Hall.
The 10 incidents reported in 2006 would appear to have occurred after the Webster Smith court-martial. Webster Smith was removed from Chase Hall in 2005. Who was doing all of the sexual assaulting in 2006? Why were none of these people brought to justice? They could have been tried along with Webster Smith.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment. The decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case.
Thirteen female cadets and 11 males at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA) reported anonymously in an April 2008 survey that they experienced “unwanted sexual contact,” ranging from touching to forced sexual acts, during the 2007-08 school year.
More than three-quarters said that alcohol or drugs were involved and that the offender was a fellow cadet.
None of the women sought professional help and only 7 percent discussed the incident with authorities.
When Alexander Hamilton organized the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 it was established in the Department of the Treasury. Later it became known as the Coast Guard. In 1966 it was placed in the Department of Transportation. Today it is the nucleus of the Department of Homeland Security. Webster Smith's case is currently being reviewed for clemency by the Secretary of the Department of Home Land Security, Janet Napolitano.
Webster Smith would have made an excellent military officer. It is Webster Smith and people like him that I want on the wall as our last line of defense for our American way of life protecting us from the great unwashed horde that is coming. Secretary Napolitano who do you want on that wall?
(By USALJ-ret. )