Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen may have been harassed, Army officials said

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Saturday, July 11, 2020
Family of missing soldier said she complained of sexual harassment
Family of Vanessa Guillen said she confided in them about two sexual harassment incidents before she went missing. Here's what they said happened.

KILLEEN, Texas -- Investigators found evidence that Vanessa Guillen, the soldier whose body was found near her Texas base months after her disappearance, may have been harassed, U.S. Army officials said.

Officials say 20-year-old Guillen was bludgeoned to death at Fort Hood by a fellow soldier. She was last seen in April and was listed as missing for six weeks before the Army released details. The soldier suspected in Guillen's slaying, Spc. Aaron Robinson, died by suicide on July 1 as police were trying to take him into custody.

In June, Guillen's family publically alleged that Guillen was sexually harassed while at Fort Hood. Her family and their attorney said that prior to her disappearance, she confided in her mother and friends the harassment.

Now, investigators are saying information was found that points to some harassment, but the harassment was not sexual in nature.

However, officials did say that someone may have said sexual comments to Guillen, but the comments didn't come from Robinson. In fact, they didn't find any evidence of a relationship, besides a professional one, between Guillen and Robinson after checking phone records and text messages.

Trump made the remarks during a Noticias Telemundo interview Friday after he said he heard about Vanessa's case on the news.

According to the Army officials, investigators also didn't find any records that would show Guillen filed any complaints, nor did anyone in her chain of command say she ever discussed any sort of harassment with them. Guillen's family attorney Natalie Khawam said Vanessa told loved ones she didn't want to report the sexual harassment out of fear of retaliation.

As the investigation continues, officials said they can't definitively say if sexual harassment was or was not a factor in Guillen's death.

The information found has been provided to officials investigating a broader sexual assault claim at Fort Hood. U.S. Army officials say they will begin an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood following calls for a more thorough investigation into the killing.

Previously, Khawam said she's discovered at least two alleged incidents of sexual harassment against Guillen -- a superior walking in on her while showering and another verbally assaulting Guillen with vulgar remarks in Spanish. Khawam said she's worried about how this case might turn out.

"The facts aren't good. I don't like them," Khawam said. "There were a few incidents where she had told her colleagues, her friends, her family about being sexually harassed, but she was afraid to report it."

In June, the Army released a statement where they said part of the following about allegations spreading on social media, without addressing a specific question.

"At this point, investigators have no credible information or report that Vanessa Guillen was sexually assaulted."

President Donald Trump acknowledged Guillen's death in an interview with Noticias Telemundo on Friday. He said he had heard of the sexual harassment and assault allegations in the Army and was expecting a report by Monday, when he said he would say more.

"I thought it was absolutely horrible," Trump said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.