Guillén Family says Army acknowledges slain soldier was sexually harassed by several NCOs
HOUSTON (KWTX) For the first time, the U.S. Army is disclosing its administrative investigative report of Vanessa Guillén’s murder at Fort Hood with her family.
On Tuesday, the four-star General of the U.S. Army’s Futures Command, Gen. John Murray, and several other Army leaders met with the Guillén family behind closed doors at hotel in Houston.
“He (General Murray) was very transparent, he was very open, he was very helpful,” said Natalie Khawam, the Guillén family attorney. “He took our recommendations and our requests seriously.”
In a press conference following the private meeting, Khawam thanked Murray and the Army, saying they’re finally helping seek justice for Vanessa and making the system to protect soldiers better.
“We sincerely believe they will continue to pursue justice for Vanessa,” said Khawam.
However, she and State Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, (TX-29), say more work needs to be done.
“The report uses the words: the Army failed this family,” said Garcia. “It’s about 13 people that have either been relieved of command or been suspended, but the reality is all of them are still in the Army, every single one of them.”
Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who was missing at Fort Hood for about two months before her remains were found late last June, was killed by a soldier, who her family says sexually harassed her, and who killed himself as police sought to arrest him.
On Tuesday, the family says the Army’s administrative investigation found that Vanessa was sexually harassed by several NCOs, but not by Aaron Robinson, her alleged killer.
“They were not in the army room so how can they conclude that she was not sexually harassed?” said Khawam. “The way he murdered Vanessa is evident of a savage person that lost his mind, and something happened in that Army room that we don’t know, but we cannot accept or allow the Army to continue saying she was not sexually harassed by Aaron Robinson.”
“Their investigation concluded that he sexually harassed other soldiers, so why stop short of being transparent and saying our evidence has not found it, but it’s possible,” she said.
Khawam says there’s at least one NCO that can still be court-martialed, and they want that to happen in addition to having more done to the others the Army has identified.
“The NCOs that sexually harassed Vanessa are still on salary, they have less responsibility, meaning they are not ‘commanding’ anymore, but they’re still getting paid for a commanding position, and it’s unfair, it’s unfair to watch perpetrators sit and exist in the Army system, because all you are is moving them from one base to another, and that’s not fixing a problem,” said Khawam.
Khawam says they made several requests to the Army which include changing the narrative concerning Robinson and making senior Army officials held to a higher standard.
“Extra protections based on years of service: seniority has no place in our legal system,” said Khawam. “U.S. taxpayers are still be paid for these perverts and problems to be in the system.”
She says the goals now are to get closure for the Guillen family, and to make sure, through legislation, what happened to Vanessa never happens again.
“Justice for Vanessa would be getting rid of those people who harmed her, who harassed her, who assaulted her,” said Khawam. “Those persons are still in the Army, and that’s not acceptable.”
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