Email to a friend

Coast Guard Convictions Highlight Aggressive Crackdown on Hazing

By Greg T. Rinckey

The courts-martial of seven Coast Guardsmen convicted of hazing other sailors are highlighting how the armed forces are demonstrating little restraint in their effort to aggressively enforce a zero-tolerance policy against the brutal and demeaning practice.

The U.S. Coast Guard on June 24 announced its completion of a series of court-martial and administrative punishments resulting from a two-year investigation into hazing allegations on the Venturous, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based cutter. In all, seven sailors were convicted at court-martial, and administrative actions were taken against an unspecified number of others for their involvement in the clandestine hazing that occurred in the ship’s berth area between summer 2007 and winter 2009.

Two of those sailors are being separated from the Coast Guard, and of them one must register as a sex offender because of an abusive sexual contact charge. A Coast Guard lieutenant commander told Navy Times that members of the Venturous were “tied down, stripped, coated in foreign substances and called derogatory names,” and “inappropriate sexual contact” was involved.

The armed forces have been aggressively cracking down on hazing ever since videos showing Marines pushing golden jump wings into the chests of new paratroopers became a national spectacle in 1997. In many cases, accused hazing offenders are primarily prosecuted under Article 93 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for cruelty or maltreatment or Article 92 for failure to obey an order or regulation or dereliction in the performance of duties.

The Venturous case, however, shows that the military has many more options in its fight against hazing. For example, on top of being found guilty of a maltreatment charge, Chief Kiel M. Johanson was also convicted of abusive sexual contact, indecent exposure and assault consummated by a battery, according to a Coast Guard press release. He must register as a sex offender where he lives, works and attends school and is undergoing separation from the Coast Guard. Seaman Apprentice Eric A. Michaels was found guilty of dereliction of duty, false official statements, assault, and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge five months of confinement.

It is not uncommon for service members to confuse unsanctioned hazing ceremonies with the legitimate bond-strengthening and honor-bestowing traditions. Service members accused of hazing should contact a military law attorney.

Greg T. Rinckey, a former military and federal attorney, is managing partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. He concentrates his practice on military law, federal employment and discrimination litigation and national security clearance mitigation. He can be reached at To schedule a meeting with one of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s military law attorneys call 202-787-1900.


Attorney Locator

Find an attorney near you.
Click below.

Contact Us

  • Tully Rinckey announces new hires and promotion

    Derrick T. Hogan was promoted to senior associate, overseeing the criminal defense practice in Albany. Hogan joined as a law clerk in 2009. Morgan Smith joined as recruitment manager. Smith has more than 14 years of staffing and recruitment experience and previously …

  • Albany Police Officer Arrested

    Officer Caught on Camera Slamming 15-Year old Girl Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox says on July 26th, Officer Ervis Miftari was called to St. Anne Institute, a rehabilitation center for troubled girls, to help with one of the residents, who …

  • Local law firm celebrates new location

    Tully Rinckey PLLC Expands into New Rochester Office Tully Rinckey recently held a ribbon cutting and open house for its new office space at 400 Linden Oaks, Suite 110, Rochester. The firm’s new 4,360-square-foot office space is one of seven …

Read All

  • Free Download: EEOC 2016 Update White Paper

    You Could Be Sharing Confidential Info and Not Even Know It Tully Rinckey’s white paper details the Equal Employment Opportunity’s (“EEOC”) nationwide change to procedure that has gone largely unnoticed. The new procedure applies to Charges filed on or after …

Read All

Read All

  • Tully Rinckey PLLC Binghamton Office Ribbon Cutting

    You’re Invited: Tully Rinckey PLLC Binghamton Office Ribbon Cutting Tully Rinckey PLLC, an upstate-wide coast-to-coast 70 attorney full-service law firm, is holding a ribbon cutting for its new office space at 4100 Vestal Road, Suite 104, Vestal, NY 13850 on …

Read All