Army launches broad review of Fort Hood after Vanessa Guillens death
Army investigators found Guillen was harassed, but not sexual harassment.
July 11, 2020, 2:02 AM
8 min read
The secretary of the Army has ordered a broad independent review of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, Texas, in the wake of the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. Meanwhile, an official said Army investigators have found information that Guillen was harassed, but that it was not sexual harassment, as Guillen’s family has claimed, and that it did not involve her alleged killer, Spc. Aaron Robinson.
The new Army review was announced following Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy’s meeting on Friday with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens and two members of Congress to discuss the issues surrounding the investigation into Guillen’s death.
“He shared with the group that he has directed an independent, comprehensive review of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, as well as the surrounding military community,” said an Army statement released following their meeting.
“The purpose of this independent review is to examine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood in the military community surrounding Fort Hood respects army values, including respect inclusiveness in workplaces, free from sexual harassment and a commitment to diversity,” said James MacPherson, the under secretary of the Army, who along with Gen. Joseph Martin, the Army vice chief of staff, will receive the review and implement any changes as needed.
The review is a direct result of concerns raised by the Guillen family, members of Congress and Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into Guillen’s disappearance and murder.
Guillen’s family has said that the 20-year-old soldier was sexually harassed at Fort Hood and that she was too afraid to step forward with her allegations because she feared retaliation.
An Army official told ABC News that during the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command’s investigation of Guillen’s disappearance on April 22 investigators identified some information that Guillen was potentially harassed at Fort Hood. The official said the harassment was not of a sexual nature, though investigators found that some sexual comments may have been made about Guillen.
But neither the harassment nor the comments were from Robinson, her alleged killer, or any other persons of interest in the investigation. Robinson died by suicide last week as investigators closed in on him as the main suspect in her disappearance.
Investigators’ review of cellphone records and text messages has not found any indications of sexual harassment, said the official. Also, they did not find any records that show Guillen filed any complaints of sexual harassment, and no one in her chain of command recalled hearing her discuss any sort of harassment with them.
Army officials said last week that they had not found any link to sexual harassment in the investigation of Guillen’s disappearance and murder, but that the allegations made by Guillen’s family would continue to be investigated.
The official said that investigators have not found anything that would indicate that Guillen had any sort of social or personal relationship with Robinson, or that there was in issue between them. So far, all indications are that their contacts were professional and related to their work as repairers of machine gun and artillery equipment.
The Army review will be carried out by four civilian consultants who will be hired as “highly qualified experts” to form a panel that will spend an estimated five to 10 days at Fort Hood.
They will review historical data from the base, including command climate surveys, inspector general reports, criminal and military justice reports and sexual harassment and sexual assault response program statistics. They will also conduct interviews with soldiers and members of the Fort Hood community.