The former enlisted leader of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who abruptly resigned in April and was subsequently investigated on accusations of “alleged inappropriate conduct” was permanently relieved earlier this month, but Academy officials are refusing to explain why.

After Master Chief Brett VerHulst’s resignation in April, academy superintendent Rear Adm. William Kelly reassigned him to another command as VerHulst awaited retirement orders and an investigation commenced.

In an email late Friday afternoon, academy spokesman David Santos said Kelly “permanently relieved” VerHulst on July 9 but declined to provide a specific reason for the move.

“While the investigation is complete, we will not comment on the specifics of the investigation to protect the rights and privacy of other individuals involved,” Santos told Navy Times.

Santos said that the investigation “found no evidence of sexual assault, sexual contact or sexual harassment.”

“A small number of academy personnel reported that Master Chief VerHulst demonstrated behaviors in personal interactions that made them uncomfortable,” Santos said. “This resulted in the Superintendent’s loss of confidence that Master Chief VerHulst could continue to perform his duties effectively.”

VerHulst could not be reached for comment Friday.

Santos declined to contact VerHulst for comment on behalf of Navy Times, saying that VerHulst had indicated earlier in the year that he didn’t wish to comment.

VerHulst is now on terminal leave before retirement and is no longer performing any Coast Guard duties, Santos said.

VerHulst assumed the duties of command master chief at the academy in August 2017, according to his online bio. It is a job that involved advising the superintendent on issues pertaining to the academy’s workforce.

Before that, VerHulst served as CMC for the 17th Coast Guard District out of Juneau, Alaska, and served on several afloat assignments earlier in his career.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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