Coast Guard’s top chaplain fired for failing to act on knowledge of another’s sexual misconduct

Stars and Stripes [Washington, DC]

April 25, 2024

By Rose L Thayer

The chaplain of the Coast Guard was fired after an investigation found he did not act appropriately when he learned of another chaplain’s sexual misconduct that predated military service, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

Navy Capt. Daniel Mode, a Catholic priest who became the Coast Guard’s top chaplain in April 2022, was reassigned Wednesday to the Navy. The Navy provides chaplains to the Coast Guard and Mode’s career spans both military service branches.

“A Coast Guard administrative investigation found that Capt. Mode did not take appropriate action when made aware of pre-service sexual misconduct by another chaplain,” according to the Coast Guard. “That member has already been removed from the Coast Guard and Navy. The investigation revealed that Captain Mode’s decisions and actions did not demonstrate the judgment required of a senior leader and chaplain of the Coast Guard.”

However, the Coast Guard said Mode’s actions did not violate the law or policies that would require punitive action. Instead, it was a “failure in judgment below what is expected from his key leadership position.”

The Navy said Mode has been assigned to the Navy Office of the Chief of Chaplains but did not define his role. The service also declined to “comment or speculate on any future or pending administrative or disciplinary actions.”

Mode maintains his ecclesiastical endorsement, according to the Navy.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, the arm of the Catholic church that certifies Roman Catholic chaplains for the U.S. military, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The decision comes as the Coast Guard faces a Senate investigation into its handling of a report titled “Fouled Anchor,” which looked into the handling of sexual assault cases at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. Operation Fouled Anchor reviewed 102 instances of rape or sexual assault at the academy dating back to the early 1990s through 2006, according to information from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It identified 43 alleged perpetrators and 63 victims. Only five cases had been reported to law enforcement at the time.

The Senate is also reviewing whether the Coast Guard intended to bury the report because senators were only informed about its existence years later after CNN began reporting on it.

From June 2009 to 2012, Mode was assigned to the Coast Guard Academy where he worked with staff and cadets, according to his online biography.

He commissioned into the Navy Reserve in 1998. He moved into the active component in 2007 and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, with which he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Mode is the author of “The Grunt Padre,” a biography of Vietnam War hero Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno, a Catholic Navy chaplain who received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War.

The Navy is also facing a challenge with a Catholic chaplain in Europe. A civilian priest assigned to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy for more than a decade filed a complaint with the Defense Department inspector general that alleges he was singled out for punishment and other unfair treatment that led base officials not to renew his contract.