Long Island: US Merchant Marine officials are investigating a case circulated on social media by a cadet woman who was sexually abused in a training session during the Sea Year of the Academy.
Ryan Melogy, the founder of the non-profit website, Maritime Legal Aid and Advocacy, created this website for shipboard harassment cases where the victims freely discuss their harassment cases anonymously. Apart from being the website founder, he is a Merchant Marine Academy graduate who also has been a target of sexual abuse in 2015. Now, he is trying to reach out to people who have been in a similar situation and strive to seek justice for them.
He said, “When you’re in that environment, you’re living in a military dictatorship, you’re living under incredibly strict rules and you’re living in a culture of fear,“
Melogy’s website sees the latest cases of sexual assault every other day. This time a female cadet from the batch of 2022 currently enrolled in the US Merchant Marine Academy revealed that during her training session at Sea, an old vessel engineer sexually abused her when she was just 19.
She said, “It has the highest incidence of any sexual assault, sexual harassment probably of any service academy, probably of any school in the country,“
The case is no more isolated – the female cadet further said she has not told anyone about the incident nor discussed it with her classmates, who have never been in such a situation during the Sea Year in the Academy.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has currently postponed the program and declared to establish legislation to pave the way for the victims to come forward and speak about their case. She calls the current incidents outrageous and stresses improving the system for better accountability and oversight.
She stated, “To have a 19-year-old woman be raped by someone 30-40 years her senior is disgusting,” and added, “I think we have to convict rapists send them to jail, and show them rape isn’t tolerated by convictions.“
In a recent statement, a representative from Maritime Administration said they don’t tolerate any sort of harassment and have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault. Not just that, they extend their support to the victims and plan to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all the students of the Academy.
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