Army announces suspensions after trainee sexually assaulted by 22 service members
Members from the 1-78 Field Artillery Battalion were reportedly involved in multiple attacks on a trainee
Multiple army instructors have been suspended over the alleged sexual assault of a trainee at the base in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Agents from Army Criminal Investigation Command reportedly launched an investigation after a female trainee claimed she was sexually assaulted by 22 service members, including several drill sergeants, The Hill reported. The trainee lodged her complaint on March 27, and her report “identified seven of the 22 members she said assaulted her,” according to The Intercept.
The outlet reported that 22 service members from the 1-78 Field Artillery Battalion were involved in multiple assaults on the woman. Video of one of the attacks reportedly made its rounds at the base and was obtained by Army investigators. According to Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, head of the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, the alleged victim is “absolutely safe” following her complaint and has “special victims counsel and access to all victims services.”
“This past Sunday, a soldier assigned to Fort Sill reported she was a victim of sexual assault involving Fort Sill cadre members,” Kamper said. “This information was immediately reported to law enforcement.”
According to a Fort Sill press release, the “potentially involved” cadre have been suspended and removed from any training environment.
“We’re just heartbroken, just sad, sad that something like this happened,” Kamper told reporters Thursday. “On a personal level, it is just heartbreaking.”
The trainee “is receiving updates from the chain of command,” about her case, said officials, who noted that the Army was sending “additional specialized CID personnel” and attorneys to the base, according to the report.
“Sexual assault will not be tolerated. It tears at the fabric of our community,” Kamper said. “We will provide further updates as we are able, while protecting the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation and the rights of all involved.”
Kamper also acknowledged that sexual assault was not an isolated event at Fort Sill.
“Is this an isolated incident? Unfortunately, sexual assault is a national problem,” Kamper said. “When we look at the Department of Defense, our new secretary’s words about the sexual assault and when we look at our Army’s commitment over time to root out sexual assault, it hurts our soldiers and families. It’s terrible to for unit cohesion and is detrimental to our mission.”
Fort Sill will investigate any further claims of sexual assault that arise as the investigation moves forward, Kamper confirmed.
“We’re positioned to do that; we have the resources to do that,” Kamper said. We have the full support of Army senior leaders for anything else we might need if anything else emerges, so absolutely.”
Per Task & Purpose, an Army official said on Friday that if the number of suspects who assaulted the trainee at Fort Sill is “really that high, it’s incomprehensible.”
Meanwhile, reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment continue to rise in the U.S. military, according to the Defense Department. The most recent headline-making case was the April 2020 killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.
As theGRIO previously reported, Guillen was serving in the Army at Fort Hood when she was bludgeoned to death. She had been missing since April 22 before her remains were found near Fort Hood in July. Her family said at the time that she was a victim of sexual harassment.
Aaron David Robinson, the soldier who was a suspect in her death, committed suicide when authorities attempted to arrest him in connection with Guillén’s death.
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