Just two days after the Town of Bristol appointed Gregg Marsili as the new harbormaster, Ms. Parella said the council was informed of an incident in Mr. Marsili’s past while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.
“None of the rumors contained any allegation of criminal conduct by Mr. Marsili,” Ms. Parella stated in a May 25 press release. “However, they did question his judgement and handling of an incident under his command.”
The incident in question involved a woman named Panayiota Bertzikis, who enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2005. Ms. Bertzikis was serving at the Coast Guard station in Burlington, Vt., in 2006, when she alleged she was raped by a fellow Coast Guard member. According to Ms. Bertzikis, her claim was never investigated by her commanding officer, Mr. Marsili, and no charges were ever filed against her alleged attacker.
Instead, Ms. Bertzikis said she was “revictimized” by Mr. Marsili’s inaction. Her experience lead her to create the Military Rape Crisis Center, for which she serves as executive director.
As recently as 2011, Ms. Bertzikis was one of 17 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, for the Pentagon’s handling of reported rapes and sexual abuse.
“Gregg retained an impeccable record while in the Coast Guard,” said Ms. Parella, adding that she spoke at-length with high-ranking Coast Guard officials regarding Mr. Marsili and his handling of the incident.
The Coast Guard also issued a press release relative to Ms. Parella’s inquiry, stating that the Coast Guard “initiated a criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving members of Coast Guard Station Burlington, Vt., in 2006 … The allegations were investigated by Coast Guard Investigative Service; that investigation is now closed.
“At the conclusion of any investigation, the Coast Guard has numerous mechanisms to hold individuals accountable, both in an administrative and disciplinary context, if deemed necessary. A review of Chief Marsili’s personnel record shows no disciplinary actions taken or pending, and no derogatory administrative remarks,” the release stated.
“I think (the council) made a very good choice to move our harbor forward,” Ms. Parella said.
Mr. Marsili, a 20-year veteran of the Coast Guard, was selected to serve as harbormaster on May 22.
The council created a separate search committee comprised of citizens to ensure “that every (candidate) was treated fairly,” Ms. Parella said. Following several months of searching, the committee named Mr. Marsili, interim harbormaster and former assistant harbormaster Matthew Calouro, and David M. Sylvaria as potential candidates.
All three candidates were interviewed extensively by the council before a decision was made.
“Like any other job application, everyone should have realized that it was a pretty competitive process,” Ms. Parella said. “I think we have a great harbormaster, and if we all just let him do his job, he will yield great results.”
Mr. Marsili declined to comment.