Defense

Army suspends multiple service members after trainee says she was sexually assaulted

Multiple soldiers who oversee training at Fort Sill, Okla., were suspended this week after they were accused of sexually assaulting a trainee.

An investigation was quickly launched after a female trainee at the base reported the sexual assault, Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, head of the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, told reporters Thursday. 

“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.”

Kamper would not say how many cadre members were suspended, though The Intercept reported that 22 service members from the 1-78 Field Artillery Battalion were involved in multiple assaults of the trainee.

The outlet also reported that video of one incident was circulating at the base and had been obtained by Army investigators, though the Army told The Hill on Friday that it does not have such a video.

The incident was first reported by local outlet The Lawton Constitution.

Sexual violence has been a scourge on the armed forces for decades, with the April 2020 killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillén throwing the issue into stark light.

Guillén was bludgeoned to death at Fort Hood, Texas, after telling her family that she was being sexually harassed by a superior.

Aaron David Robinson, another soldier who was a suspect in her death, killed himself when authorities attempted to arrest him after some of Guillén remains were found at the end of June.

The Army fired or suspended at least 14 officials following the slaying.  

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has since declared tackling military sexual assault and harassment as one of his top priorities and in February stood up a 90-day independent review commission on sexual assault in the military. 

Kamper said Thursday that the soldier who reported the sexual assault at Fort Sill “is absolutely safe,” and has access to special victims counsel and victim services.

“We’re just heartbroken, just sad, sad that something like this happened,” Kamper said. “On a personal level it is just heartbreaking.”

Updated April 3, 4:09 p.m. 

Tags Fort Sill Ken Kamper Lloyd Austin Oklahoma Sex crimes Sexual abuse sexual abuse in the military Sexual harassment Sexual harassment in the military Sexual misconduct

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