Sunday, June 20

Sexual abuse: Five soldiers released from their charges for the murder of the soldier Vanessa Guillén in the United States | International

Mural of the soldier Vanessa Guillén in Houston (Texas).
Mural of the soldier Vanessa Guillén in Houston (Texas).MARK FELIX / AFP

More than a dozen Army officers and NCOs are facing disciplinary action in relation to the disappearance and death of Private Vanessa Guillén last year at the Fort Hood (Texas) military base, an investigation revealed this Friday within the militia. The report, however, did not make public the names of the military, following the protocol that prevails in the Army.

The military faces disciplinary charges for various rulings and assures that Guillén was sexually harassed, as she herself had told her mother months before her disappearance. Guillén, 20 years old, told his mother in February last year that he would wait to leave the Army – in June – to report what had happened to him, since he feared that if he spoke earlier this would bring painful consequences.

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The chief investigator, General Michael Garrett, has ordered that five servicemen from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment be relieved of their duties. Three will receive reprimand letters. All this will almost certainly be the end of the career of these officers. The cases of eight other military personnel will remain in the hands of their immediate superior.

Guillén was last seen alive on April 22 of last year. A couple of days later his search began. His fate was a mystery until June 30, when a search party found his body burned and mutilated.

The case took a tragic turn when after finding her body, the authorities went to question, again, a colleague, Aaron Robinson, 20 years old, since he had been the last person the soldier had contacted by phone. Robinson committed suicide by shooting himself in the head before being arrested.

The Guillén case sparked outrage at the failures made by the Army within Fort Hood, having failed to detect the sexual harassment he suffered and the lack of attention to his disappearance.

The report released now by the Army establishes that Guillén suffered harassment on two occasions and that his immediate superior did not report it, which meant that the high command did nothing either. The document has found no evidence that she was harassed by Private Aaron Robinson, her alleged murderer.

What allegedly happened with Guillén was revealed by Robinson’s girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, who was also on the suspect list. Aguilar related that her boyfriend had told her that he had murdered Guillén by hitting her with a mallet on the head until she died. The alleged killer’s girlfriend helped move the young woman’s lifeless body to the outskirts of the city, for which she faces murder charges.

The Guillén case prompted the Army and the Department of Defense to consider allegations of sexual harassment and appropriately handle allegations of sexual assault. On the Capitol in Washington, a group of Republican and Democratic congressmen fight to carry out a proposal to create an independent agency that receives complaints and investigates them. According to the Pentagon, in 2019, there were more than 7,800 complaints of sexual abuse – 3% more than in the previous year – and some 2,100 complainants gave up starting an official investigation of their cases, 17% more than in 2018. The same Figures indicate that more than 1,000 soldiers reported sexual harassment, 10% more than in the previous year.

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