Army to investigate Fort Hood SHARP program after disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen

Abbie Bennett
July 01, 2020 - 7:05 pm
Vanessa guillen

Courtesy of the US Army

U.S. Army Forces Command sent an Inspector General team to Fort Hood this week to investigate the Fort Hood Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program after the disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen. 

Her family said she told them she had been sexually harassed by a Fort Hood soldier before she went missing. 

The team arrived the same day human remains were found near the Leon River, where search parties looked for the 20-year-old soldier last week. On Wednesday, Guillen's family and their attorney told reporters at a press conference in Washington, D.C. they believed the remains belong to Guillen. 

Remains found are missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, family believes

The remains had not been officially identified as of 7 p.m. Wednesday. 

Wednesday evening, Fort Hood public affairs announced Guillen had been promoted to specialist, effective July 1, "due to time in service." 

Guillen, 20, of Houston, has been missing since April 22. She was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Guillen's car keys, barracks' room key, ID and wallet were all found in the armory where she had been working earlier that day. 

Last week, officials said they suspected foul play in her disappearance. 

Guillen's family said she told them she had been sexually harassed at Fort Hood, but Army officials have said they had no "credible information" about those allegations. 

Wednesday morning, a "military suspect" in Guillen's disappearance died by suicide as law enforcement "attempted to make contact," according to the Army Criminal Investigation Command. 

The family's attorney, Natalie Khawam, identified the man as Aaron Robinson, according to a BOLO circulated by Fort Hood Tuesday night. 

CID also said a civilian suspect was taken into custody. "the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier." 

A team of seven investigators is set to focus on three main objectives, according to a news release from Fort Hood Wednesday evening: 

  • "Examining SHARP program implementation at Fort Hood;
  • Assessing whether the command climate is supportive of soldiers reporting incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault;
  • Identifying an potentially systemic issues with the SHARP program at Fort Hood, as well as any resource constraints."

The inspection team from Fort Bragg, N.C. is expected to brief Fort Hood and Army Forces Command leaders when they complete their investigation. 

Forces Command and Fort Hood did not say if the investigation was related to Guillen's disappearance. Her family previously said Guillen did not report her harassment to her unit's SHARP representative.

The family, Khawam and a few Capitol Hill lawmakers are calling for a congressional investigation of Guillen's disappearance. 

"They should be ashamed of themselves. Protocol was breached in every manner. We lost one of our own on our own base," Kahwam said. "Everything we were given was lies. It was evasive. They were very disingenuous to us. I don't know who's covering up for who but it doesn't matter."

CID officials said Guillen's case is still an open, ongoing criminal investigation. 

“There is still a lot of investigative work to be done and we ask for the public and media’s patience,” said Chris Grey, CID spokesman. “There are obviously pieces of information and evidence that cannot be shared with the public during an active criminal investigation. Doing so can seriously jeopardize the charging and successful prosecution of individuals. When important investigative information is prematurely released, criminals can and will destroy evidence, conspire to change their stories, build false alibis, etc.”

Anyone with information can contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170. They can also anonymously submit information at www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html.  People who want to remain anonymous "will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable," CID officials said. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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