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'Unheard' A former soldier describes alleged sexual assault firsthand

Posted at 8:26 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 09:31:09-05

FORT HOOD — Stories of sexual harassment and assault are now coming to light after the firing and suspension of 14 leaders on Fort Hood. 25 News spoke to a victim and heard her story firsthand from inside the Army.

The victim said that of the people fired and suspended from Fort Hood after the Army's independent review, one was in the victim's former command when her assault investigation happened on a separate post. The victim explained she feels her command didn't aid her after the traumatic assault.

According to the victim, whose name and identity 25 News is protecting, she felt unheard.

"At first they acted really concerned and like they were going to help me, and instead the next day he put me and the man I just told him raped me, in the same room, to talk it out," said the victim.

"He straight sat there and told me that that is what I wanted and that intercourse between two people who work together isn't rape," said the victim.

According to the victim, after that discussion nothing changed, she explained she simply tried not bring up the event. She says she moved from company to company within the Army, but rumors followed

"People were just saying really ugly things about me like I was a liar, and I asked for it," said the victim.

Now after the death of Vanessa Guillen, an independent review uncovered a culture of silence and intimidation at Fort Hood. This soldier says it is Army-wide.

"My assault was terrible but being re-victimized by the command was sometimes even worse," said the victim.

She said she was threatened with an Article 15 if she kept talking about her experience. She says she sought help from SARC and SHARP and a civilian victim advocate but felt their reach was limited.

25 News asked if she knew of other soldiers who experience similar situations while in the Army, the victim saying, yes she did.

She says it was because of the care of a congressman that her case was reopened and now has some resolve, but according to the soldier, there will never be closure.

"I've always just wanted to be able to share my story in hopes that it would help someone else," she said.

Having watched the Guillen case, she says it seems nothing in the Army has changed.

"I really think it tells to the climate and culture we were currently in at the time, and it seems like it's still fostered till this day...the fact that one of these suspended individuals was apart of my command and then transferred to Fort Hood, only to do the same thing was eye-opening" she explained.

Fort Hood provided 25 News with the following:

“Fort Hood is moving out on a significant culture change initiative to create cohesive teams and a culture of trust that works toward eliminating sexual harassment and assault. We are focused on our People First initiative and have cleared the calendar for leaders to get to know their Soldiers—we want junior Soldiers to trust their leaders. And we are developing confident, competent, certified positively-engaged leaders who take action on behalf of their troops; leaders that are lacking get re-trained or, in some instances, removed. We’re showing public accountability of Sex offenders by posting ‘Teal Hash’ messages with Courts-Martial results in barracks, orderly rooms, and social media. Every voice matters, every Soldier matters.” ~Col. Myles B. Caggins III, III Corps and Fort Hood spokesman.

The victim says after watching the press conference from the Pentagon regarding the independent review and hearing the investigators explain they hear and believe soldiers, gives her hope.

She also feels the investigation and diligence into Fort Hood's climate and culture is something that should be done across all military installations to ensure changes happen.