Washington, DC – Today, an independent investigation into a number of deaths at Fort Hood in recent months, including the tragic murder of Vanessa Guillén, found that Army leadership fostered a “permissive environment” allowing for sexual assault, harrasment, and voilence to go unchecked. The report detailed Army leaderships’ consistent failures to address known instances of sexual assault and violence through both investigating crimes and providing support to victims of assualt. Fourteen Army leaders at Fort Hood were removed or suspended as a result of the report, including Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt and Maj, Gen. Jeffrey Broadwater.
Instead of addressing systemic issues fueling the crisis, the Pentagon has repeatedly misled Congress to stop reform. President-Elect Joe Biden has been clear on the need to empower independent military prosecutors to address the crisis. This is the first time ever that a Commander-in-Chief has supported fundamental reform; with continued resistance from military leadership to address a long-standing culture of sexual assault, that support will prove vital in implementing fundamental reform.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“This is a complete indictment of the myth that commanders are the solution to the military’s sexual assault crisis. From prevention to investigations to protection to accountability, this is a damning inside look at Ft. Hood’s callous disregard to its soldiers’ well being. As a result, soldiers fear reporting sexual assault and harassment. If they do report they suffer severe retaliation.
“President-elect Biden’s support for empowering independent prosecutors will help transform a military justice system that too often allows rapists to act without fear of repercussions. Vanessa Guillén died because the institution that was supposed to protect her instead fosters a dangerous environment where sexual assault and harrasment are commonplace. Sadly, I don’t believe this climate is unique to Ft. Hood or the Army.
“This report should leave no doubt that it is time to finally act on fundamental reform of the military justice system.”
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About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at https://facebook.com/