Coastie faces sex assault charges

(FULL STORY) A U.S. Coast Guard officer temporarily stationed in Grand Haven is facing court martial on sexual assault charges, Coast Guard officials announced Tuesday.
Becky Vargo
Apr 16, 2014

The Coast Guard statement doesn't describe the alleged criminal conduct, but says the man is also accused of attempted sexual assault and making false statements during the investigation.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua M. Raymond was relocated from his Sector Lake Michigan assignment in Milwaukee to Station Grand Haven in December 2013, confirmed Cmdr. Sean Brady of Sector Field Office Grand Haven.

“He is temporarily assigned to Grand Haven for the course of the investigation,” Brady said. “He is working at the small boat station.”

Brady said Raymond was moved to Grand Haven when the sexual assault allegation came down. Raymond is on restricted duty, pending the outcome of the case.

“Members (of the Coast Guard) are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Brady said. “He was transferred … as a precaution.”

The petty officer’s case has been referred to an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury hearing, Coast Guard spokesman Christopher Yaw explained. The outcome of the hearing could range from having the charges dropped to an administrative reprimand, dismissal from the service or confinement, Brady said.

Raymond, a 30-year-old from Deerfield, Wis., was an operations specialist at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. He is accused of having improper sexual contact with a fellow service member during a party in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa on or about Nov. 27, 2013, the press release said.

When asked if there was concern for females at Station Grand Haven, Brady said, “The elements of the accusation that he is charged with do not indicate he is a danger to other personnel.”

Raymond's attorney, Grover Baxley, said his client intends to plead not guilty to all charges against him.
Baxley also said he was troubled that the Coast Guard sent out a news release identifying Raymond by name at such an early stage in the process. He suggested the move raises the possibility that military officials exerted improper influence.
"The Coast Guard's decision to broadcast these allegations publicly even before a preliminary evidentiary hearing calls into question whether my client can receive fair consideration of his case within this particular chain of command," Baxley said. "I look forward to learning of the Coast Guard's legitimate rationale for seeking out publicity for this case."

The next hearing in the case will likely be in June in Milwaukee, Yaw said.

Brady said the incident comes at a time when the Coast Guard is stressing awareness and training on preventing sexual assaults.

“We’re doing a fun run on Friday through downtown Grand Haven to raise awareness,” he said.

Brady said there have been no reports of sexual harassment or assault involving personnel at the Grand Haven Coast Guard facilities in the nearly three years that he has been its commander. Prior to his arrival, there was an incident in which a Coast Guard member was charged with sexual assault.

“That person was dismissed from the Coast Guard,” Brady said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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