The family of murdered US Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is demanding military officials release the name of a supervisor who sexually harassed her before she was killed by another soldier last year.
An Army report released on Friday said that the sexual harassment by the superior was unrelated to Guillen’s murder and that the suspected killer, Specialist Aaron Robinson, 20, had also been accused of harassing another female service member.
Friday’s report did not name the man accused of harassing Guillen, who is said to have asked her for a threesome, over ‘privacy concerns’ because of his low rank.
He was one of 21 people hit with disciplinary action over his behavior, but Army officials did not comment further on details of that punishment.
And while Guillen’s family is relieved to have some justice, they still don’t understand why the Army has refused to release the supervisor’s name.
Guillen’s sister Mayra Guillén told ABC News: ‘The Army keeps trying to protect this name and I want to understand why. Why not just try to take a step forward, admit that you were wrong, fix it and make yourself look better so, the nation could trust you again.’
US Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen’s sister Mayra Guillén (left) is demanding the Army release the name of the soldier who sexually harassed her sister. ‘The Army keeps trying to protect this name and I want to understand why,’ Mayra said
Mayra also tweeted about how the Fort Hood base did their own investigation and tried to allege that Guillen wasn’t sexually harassed
Mayra also said that her family hopes to push the US government to address sexual harassment in the military.
‘We’re still looking to work very hard on this so we can put an end to it and not have what happened to Vanessa happen to anyone else ever again,’ she said.
The Guillén family has also joined Congress members and other activists to fight for the passage of the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act.
The act is named after the hashtag that was used by military sexual assault survivors to denounce their experiences on social media when Guillen went missing in April 2020.
Reps Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, and Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Oklahoma, said the bill would make sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Investigators believe Robinson bludgeoned Guillen to death with a hammer, removed her body from an armory at Fort Hood, and then dismembered her and buried her remains on April 22, 2020.
Guillen’s remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas on June 30.
According to the Army report released on Friday, Robinson was detained shortly after Guillen’s remains were found, but he was allowed to escape. A few hours later, he fatally shot himself as police were about to take him into custody.
Robinson’s former girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, has been charged with helping Robinson hide Guillen’s body and impeding the investigation.
The Army report details the final hours of Robinson’s life.
At around 5pm on June 30, just hours after workers found Guillen’s remains in a shallow grave, a member of the Army Criminal Investigation Command called Robinson’s unit and told them to put the specialist under strict observation.
Guillen, 20, (left) disappeared from the Texas, base in April 2020 and her dismembered and buried remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River. Officials said fellow soldier Aaron Robinson, 20, (right) was the main suspect in her killing
Robinson was told he was being detained for violating COVID-19 quarantine rules. He was then placed inside a conference room where an unarmed soldier was guarding the door.
While Robinson was upset he was being detained, he nonetheless appeared relaxed. He spent his time in detention playing video games, according to the report. Robinson was also allowed to keep his cell phone, which was being monitored by his superiors.
A few hours later, commanders got wind of new information suggesting that Robinson would try to escape, according to the report.
In a text chain, one officer said that if he tried to escape, the guards had to ‘tackle his a** and call the MPs [military police]’.
But the soldier guarding Robinson did not get the message, according to the Army report.
Just after 10pm, Robinson received a telephone call that appeared to be from his mother.
Army Maj Gen Scott Efflandt, who was left in charge of the base when Guillen was killed, was fired following the review
Suspended: Maj Gen Jeffrey Broadwater (left) and Command Sgt Maj Thomas C. Kenny (right), both of the 1st Cavalry Division, were suspended following the review
Fired: Col. Ralph Overland (left), the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp (right), both of whom were in charge of Guillen’s unit, were fired
The base commander, Army Lt Gen Pat White (above), will not face any administrative action because he was deployed to Iraq for much of the year
‘Don’t believe what you hear about me,’ a guard heard Robinson say.
Several minutes later, Robinson escaped. A few hours later, he was spotted by Army and civilian police in the city of Killeen, just outside of Fort Hood.
As officers were closing in to make an arrest, Robinson pulled out a gun and shot himself dead.
Major General Gene LeBoeuf said that Robinson’s escape is still the subject of an ongoing investigation.
The report blamed a communication breakdown between the soldier’s unit and the criminal investigation agents which allowed him to flee.
Guillen’s killing shocked the military and forced the high command to re-examine the extent to which a culture of sexual harassment had taken root throughout the armed forces.
14 Fort Hood officials suspended and fired
The names of the battalion level and below commanders and leaders who received administrative action were not released.
FIRED: Maj Gen Scott L. Efflandt, deputy commanding general III Corps, who was in charge of the base at the time of Guillen’s death
FIRED: Col Ralph Overland, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander, who was in charge of Guillen’s unit
FIRED: Command Sgt Maj Bradley Knapp, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment command sergeant major, who was in charge of Guillen’s unit
SUSPENDED: Maj Gen Jeffrey Broadwater, 1st Cavalry Division commanding general, pending the outcome of a new Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation of 1st Cavalry Division’s command climate and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program
SUSPENDED: Command Sgt Maj Thomas C. Kenny, 1st Cavalry Division command sergeant major, pending the outcome of a new Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation of 1st Cavalry Division’s command climate and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program
The latest findings were announced as part of an investigation into Guillen’s killing and the actions of officers immediately afterward.
Last year, a separate, civilian-run probe was launched examining the overall culture at Fort Hood.
As a result of the investigation, the Army fired or suspended 14 officers and enlisted soldiers at Fort Hood and ordered policy changes to address chronic failures of leadership that contributed to a widespread pattern of violence.
In a sweeping condemnation of Fort Hood’s command hierarchy, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy fired three top commanders and suspended two others pending a further investigation.
He also ordered a separate probe into staffing and procedures at the base’s Criminal Investigation Command unit, which is responsible for investigating crimes on Fort Hood.
Army Maj Gen Scott Efflandt, who was left in charge of the base earlier this year when Guillen was killed, was fired from his post.
Army leaders had already delayed Efflandt’s planned transfer to Fort Bliss, where he was supposed to take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division, due to the investigations into the base.
The base commander, Army Lt Gen Pat White, will not face any administrative action because he was deployed to Iraq as the commander there for much of the year.
The leadership of Guillen’s unit, Col Ralph Overland and Command Sgt Maj Bradley Knapp of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment were also fired.
Maj Gen Jeffrey Broadwater and Command Sgt Maj Thomas C. Kenny, 1st Cavalry Division commanding general and command sergeant major, were both suspended.
Their suspension is pending the outcome of a new Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation of 1st Cavalry Division’s command climate and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program.
The names of the battalion level and below commanders and leaders who received administrative action were not released.
McCarthy said the panel published nine main findings and 70 recommendations that the Army is accepting to correct the command culture at the base.
The panel said they made an effort to talk to women in every division at the base, especially those in Guillen’s unit.
The panel conducted 647 individual interviews on the base.
‘Of the 503 women we interviewed [in the investigation], we discovered 93 credible accounts of sexual assault. Of those only 59 were reported,’ Queta Rodriguez, a member of the independent review panel, said.
‘And we also found 217 unreported accounts of sexual harassment. Of those only half were reported. What we discovered was over the course of those interviews, the lack of confidence in the system effected the reports of those incidents,’ she added.
The independent review found that the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP) failed to curb sexual assault and harassment on bases due to structural failures.
Panelists said there was a lack of training, resourcing and staffing at the SHARP office on Fort Hood.
It also found that the command climate failed to practice the program’s core values below the brigade level, which led to less trust in the program.
The actions come after a year that saw at least 31 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood die due to suicide, homicide or accidents, including the bludgeoning death of Guillen.
The Army on Friday announced that it had taken disciplinary action against 21 soldiers and officers who failed to act. Those soldiers have not been identified.
‘It was devastating to all of us,’ Major General LeBoeuf told The New York Times.
‘We as an Army failed to protect Vanessa Guillen.’
Of the 31 deaths at the base last year, while some were deemed accidents, five were homicides and 10 were suicides.
One of the most recent of tragedies to strike the base include the death of Sgt Elder Fernandes, 23, who was found dead hanging from a tree on August 19.
Also in August Pvt Corlton L. Chee, 25, collapsed during fitness training at the base and died two days later and in November Spc Cory Grafton, 20, was arrested after DNA testing linked him to the murder of a woman found dead in a hotel near the base last year.
Fort Hood’s grim death toll: 31 soldiers have died in 2020 alone
Vanessa Guillen’s high-profile death captured the attention of the nation and led to a reckoning within the Army in its handling of sexual harassment and assault.
Only after her death did the staggering number of deaths, disappearances, and issues at the Killeen, Texas base come to light.
In total, 31 soldiers have died.
February 1, 2020: PVT Eric Christopher Hogan and PFC Anthony Nevelle Peak Jr. die in a car crash
March 1, 2020: SPC Shelby Tyler Jones is shot dead at a convenience store in Killeen
March 5, 2020: Spc. Christopher Wayne Sawyer found dead at his home. Foul play is not suspected.
Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Gregory Morales was reported missing from the base a year ago in August 2019. The 24-year-old’s remains were found in June in a field in Killeen during the search for Guillen’s remains
March 14, 2020: SPC Freddy Beningo Delacruz Jr. is killed in a triple murder
March 23, 2020: Fort Hood soldier Spc. Jovino Jamel Roy, 22, was charged with murder after allegedly shooting former Fort Hood soldier Michael Steven Wardrobe, 22
April 22, 2020: Vanessa Guillen goes missing and is last seen in the parking lot of the base. She disappeared after telling her family she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant on the base.
May 18, 2020: Body of Army Pfc. Brandon S. Rosecrans, 27, was discovered with gunshot wounds and his Jeep was found three miles away engulfed in flames.
June 19, 2020: Search teams discover the corpse of missing soldier Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales following a tip to Army base investigators. Remains were found in a field in Killeen, just over 10 miles from Stillhouse Hollow Lake, five miles from Fort Hood.
July 1, 2020: First parts of Giullen’s remains found about 20 miles east of Fort Hood.
Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, kills himself. Officials say he killed and dismembered Guillén and had the remains disposed of.
July 2, 2020: Army Specialist Miguel Yazzie, 33, died on July 2; Yazzie, of Window Rock, Arizona, was hospitalized for a medical condition the day before he died.
Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, (left) of Florida was found unresponsive on July 17 near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. The body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, (right) was found August 2 after he died in a boating accident at the same lake over the weekend
July 17, 2020: Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, of Pensacola, Florida was found dead July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, around 15 miles from the Fort Hood base.
August 2, 2020: The body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, is recovered from Stillhouse Hollow Lake following boating incident not far from where Morta was found.
August 12, 2020: Spc. Cole Jakob Aton, 22, of Kentucky died after he was hit by a car as he was assisting a minor accident scene
August 13, 2020: National Guard soldier, Sgt Bradley Moore dies during a training exercise at the base
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was found dead hanging from a tree on August 19. He had allegedly been hazed and ‘humiliated’ by peers after he reported he was sexually assaulted by a male superior, his family’s lawyer said
August 19, 2020: Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, is reported missing after he was last seen on August 17.
August 25, 2020: The body of Fernandes is believed to have been found about 30 miles from Fort Hood
August 28, 2020: Pvt. Corlton L. Chee, 25, collapsed during fitness training at Fort Hood on August 28. He died two days later.
November 3, 2020: Spc. Cory Grafton, 20, was arrested after a witness account and advanced DNA testing allegedly linked him to the murder of Chelsea Cheatham, 32, who was found dead in a Days Inn hotel, six minutes away from the Texas base, in June 2019