By Vivian Ho
A U.S. Coast Guardswoman looked down while using a restroom stall on the military service’s Alameda base to see a man peering up.
“Are you sick?” she asked.
It was November 2011. The woman said later that she wanted to believe the man was ill. But this was the women’s restroom. She reported him the next morning.
Still, Petty Officer First Class Christopher Molloy went unpunished. He continued providing medical care at the Coast Guard sick bay on Yerba Buena Island, and the woman continued to see him at the Alameda base.
At a court-martial hearing last month, the cost of inaction was clear. Molloy, 31, admitted he went on to watch or film a dozen others, including eight more guardswomen, in states of undress. He admitted as well to fondling women after setting up unneeded tests.
The hearing, which saw emotional testimony from most of the victims, highlighted the devastation of sexual assault in the armed forces, a crime military leaders have called a cancer in the ranks.
It also raised questions about how the case was investigated and prosecuted by the Coast Guard, which like the other branches is under immense pressure to get a handle on sexual abuse.