14 Army Leaders Fired or Suspended in Fort Hood Probe Over Vanessa Guillen's Murder
A scathing report released Tuesday found "permissive" culture of sexual assault at Fort Hood, the sprawling Army base where Vanessa Guillén was bludgeoned to death this year.
The Army released a scathing report Tuesday on sexual harassment and violence at Fort Hood, the massive base rocked this year by the murder of soldier Vanessa Guillén and complaints of widespread sexual harassment and violence.
The investigation found “major flaws” at the installation and a command environment “permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who also announced the firing or suspension of 14 military leaders.
“This report, without a doubt, will cause the Army to change our culture,” McCarthy said at a press conference at the Pentagon.
The investigation followed the killing of 20-year-old, who was bludgeoned to death in an armory where she worked. In July, McCarthy commissioned an independent board to review violence and sexual harassment at the troubled base.
"I have determined the issues at Fort Hood are directly related to leadership failures," he said.
The murder of Guillén "shocked our conscience and brought attention to deeper problems" at Fort Hood and across the Army, he said. It "forced us to take a critical look at our systems, our policies, and ourselves."
Guillén vanished from her post on the base in April. Her dismembered and burned remains were found buried some 20 miles away in June. The suspect in her killing, Spc. Aaron Robinson, shot himself to death on July 1 as officers approached him for questioning.
Guillén's family has said Robinson had sexually harassed her, but the Army has said there were no reports filed of such activity.
The review panel surveyed 31,612 soldiers, interviewed 647, and met with civic and elected leaders, local law enforcement leaders and the local district attorneys, McCarthy said.
Earlier this year, McCarthy said Fort Hood had the highest rate of violence and sexual harassment and assault in the entire Army.
“They are the highest, in most cases, for sexual assault and harassment and murders for our entire formation — the U.S. Army,” he said.
In the past four years, according to media reports, there have been more than 150 noncombat deaths of Fort Hood soldiers, including 71 suicides and at least seven homicides.
Those relieved of duty include Major General Scott L. Efflandt, Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Major Bradley Knapp, the Army said Tuesday. Major General Jeffrey Broadwater and Command Sgt. Major Thomas Kenny have been suspended pending the outcome of a new investigation into the 1st Cavalry Division's command climate.
Panel member Queta Rodriguez, regional director of a nonprofit organization for veterans, said "We discovered 93 credible accounts of sexual assault; of those only 59 were reported," she said.
The high number of unreported allegations showed a "lack of confidence in the system," she said, with many female soldiers saying they didn't come forward because they thought no one would believe them.
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