WASHINGTON—The Army mentioned Friday that it has taken disciplinary motion in opposition to 21 officers and non-commissioned officers at Fort Hood, Texas, in reference to demise final 12 months of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who was lacking for about two months earlier than her stays have been discovered.
The punishments, which embody firing eight senior commanders, are the newest Army strikes in response to Guillén’s disappearance and demise, which dropped at gentle widespread management failures at a base that had excessive charges of sexual assault, harassment, drug use and different issues.
Also, in a brand new revelation, an Army report blamed the navy for permitting Guillén’s killer to flee from custody and finally kill himself. It discovered that “poor communication” between troopers preserving watch on Spc. Aaron Robinson failed to obviously be aware that he was a soldier of “heightened interest,” contributing to his potential to flee from a convention room. He dedicated suicide whereas being pursued.
While the self-discipline introduced Friday represents a sweeping condemnation of troopers in Guillén’s chain of command, no legal expenses have been introduced in opposition to any of the troopers. Instead, the troopers have been relieved of command or given formal letters of reprimand that can go into their everlasting recordsdata, or each. In many circumstances such self-discipline is career-ending.
The investigation, led by Gen. John Murray, head of Army Futures Command, concluded that Guillén was sexually harassed by one other soldier—a cost that commanders on the base denied for months. Maj. Gen. Gene LeBoeuf, Forces Command chief of employees, informed reporters Friday that the soldier who harassed her is amongst these disciplined.
He declined to establish that individual, however mentioned it was not Robinson, the soldier investigators say killed her. Robinson killed himself on July 1 as police have been making an attempt to take him into custody. The household has recognized the soldier who harassed her as Sgt. 1st Class Jovanny Rivera.
The report mentioned the investigating officer “found no credible evidence to conclude” that Robinson sexually harassed Guillén or that they’d any relationship exterior of their work setting. And it didn’t discover a motive within the killing. Instead, it mentioned Robinson sexually harassed one other soldier.
Guillén’s household has mentioned that he harassed Guillén. “If you can’t say why he murdered her, you can’t say he didn’t sexually harass her,” mentioned Guillén household lawyer Natalie Khawam in an interview with The Associated Press Friday.
An impartial overview panel created to dig into the issues on the base concluded final December that navy leaders on the base weren’t adequately coping with excessive charges of sexual assault, harassment, drug use and different issues. It additionally discovered that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, was understaffed, overwhelmed and stuffed with inexperienced investigators.
The panel’s chairman informed members of Congress in a listening to earlier this 12 months that the bottom management was centered on navy readiness, and “completely and utterly neglected” the sexual assault prevention program. As a outcome, he mentioned, lower-level unit commanders didn’t encourage service members to report assaults, and in lots of circumstances have been shaming victims or have been really the perpetrators themselves.
In response to the newest investigation, the Guillén household and Khawam additionally issued a press release saying there are lots of inconsistencies within the report.
In an interview with the AP Friday, Guillén’s sisters Lupe and Mayra expressed frustration.
The household additionally issued a press release saying: “Vanessa’s case was severely mishandled. We are upset that the names of the soldiers that sexually harassed Vanessa are not included. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating for all of us.”
The senior leaders disciplined embody Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, former Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, and Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp, the previous commander and command sergeant main of third Cavalry Regiment. Efflandt was serving as appearing base commander in the course of the time of Guillén’s demise.
The base commander, Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, escaped any self-discipline. Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of employees, mentioned in December that White was not punished as a result of he was deployed to Iraq because the commander there for a lot of the 12 months, and wasn’t on the base.
Officials have mentioned that members of the CID have been additionally disciplined, though their names haven’t been launched.
As many as 28 Fort Hood troopers died in 2020, together with in a number of homicides, suicides and different accidents. Guillén’s demise triggered a social media motion of former and present navy service folks talking out about sexual assault and harassment on the bottom.
Murray’s investigation was submitted to Gen. Michael Garrett, head of Army Forces Command, who made a lot of the reprimand selections, and beneficial a number of others to White.
The report concluded that Guillén’s leaders did not take acceptable motion when she was sexually harassed by a supervisor, who created an “intimidating, hostile environment.” It mentioned
It additionally concluded that third Cavalry Regiment commanders didn’t sufficiently emphasize the prevention and response to sexual assault or harassment, and that they failed to carry her supervisor accountable for his actions.
“They knew of the aggressive and counterproductive leadership but took no action,” the report mentioned, including that senior leaders have been conscious of issues with the supervisor however continued to maneuver him from one squadron to a different.
The report added that base commanders did not publicly tackle Guillén’s disappearance or right inaccurate data that got here out within the aftermath.
“This contributed to an inability to inform and educate the public in a timely manner, and maintain transparency with the Guillén family,” the report mentioned, including that it brought about the household, the neighborhood and the nation to lose belief with Fort Hood.
In a press release late Friday, a Fort Hood spokesperson mentioned the Guillén case was “a catalyst for significant cultural and policy changes across the Army and Fort Hood; we never want any family to experience a tragedy like this again.” The assertion mentioned Fort Hood has “invested more than 6 million work-hours focused on team-building activities to build trust and morale.”
Lupe and Mayra Guillén informed the AP that they have been upset to see that a few of the folks accountable would solely obtain reprimands and would have the prospect to defend themselves in opposition to the actions.
“My sister can’t speak for herself, why should they?” Lupe Guillén mentioned.
By Lolita C. Baldor