Former Coast Guard commander charged with indecent acts

31 COUNTS: Former chief in Anchorage relieved from position here last May.

November 3, 2009 

A Coast Guard captain removed from his Alaska position earlier this year was charged Tuesday with a string of sexual and other offenses, including allegations of adultery, downloading sexually explicit material on his computer and sending lewd photographs of himself to a woman.

In all, the U.S. Coast Guard filed 31 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice against Capt. Herbert M. Hamilton III, 48. He is accused of sexual improprieties involving multiple women -- some identified as enlisted Coast Guard personnel -- in numerous locations around Alaska and the Lower 48.

The alleged offenses include fraud, adultery, indecent language and soliciting another to commit an offense. The allegations cover a period between November 2004 and shortly before Hamilton was relieved of his duties as the Coast Guard's commander for the Anchorage sector in May.

Hamilton, who is known as Mark, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Military charging documents obtained by The Associated Press say Hamilton used a government cell phone to send and receive sexual and amorous text messages, downloaded and stored sexually explicit material on his government-issued laptop computer and photographed sexual acts.

According to the documents, Hamilton was on active duty in February and called the Anchorage sector command center while "engaged in sexual activity." Another time, the documents said, he sent the lewd photographs of himself to a woman.

When Hamilton was removed from his duties, the Coast Guard cited alleged misconduct and a loss of confidence in Hamilton's ability to command.

During the Coast Guard's preliminary investigation, Hamilton was temporarily assigned to the staff of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District, which covers Alaska.

Coast Guard officials said the charges will be heard at a formal hearing where Hamilton will have the right to question witnesses. A date has not been set.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Eric Eggen said an investigating officer at the hearing will look into the allegations and recommend how the case should proceed. Possibilities include trying those or other charges at a general court-martial or dropping the charges altogether.

Eggen said the final determination will be made by Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, district commander. Meanwhile, the investigation continues.

Hamilton took the Anchorage position in August 2008 and previously served as deputy commander for Coast Guard operations in the Los Angeles area.

The Anchorage role includes diverse duties, such as verifying compliance of fishing vessels in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, and inspecting vessels transporting freight and passengers between the Lower 48 and western Alaska.

Another mission is inspecting waterfront facilities, tank ships and barges associated with the oil industry.

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