Apr 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Army suspends Fort Sill soldiers as it investigates sexual assault allegation

U.S Army badge is seen on a uniform of American soldier who attends a ceremony at the Kosciuszko Mound in Krakow, Poland, on August 4, 2020.
Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Soliders at Fort Sill in Oklahoma have been suspended from their duties, pending an investigation into a sexual assault allegation, military officials said this week.

Driving the news: Last Saturday, a female solider trainee reported she was the victim of sexual assault "involving Fort Sill cadre members," Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, the base's commanding general, said in a statement Thursday. He did not elaborate on how many soldiers may be involved or when the alleged assault took place.

What they're saying: "This soldier, who came forward with allegations of sexual assault, is absolutely safe," Kamper said.

  • "[W]e're proud of the courage she displayed in coming forward with these allegations," he added.
  • "The thought of something like this happening in our Army, here at Ft. Sill, deeply saddens me. Every single Soldier deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We will not tolerate sexual assault, as it tears the fabric of our community."
  • "We take these allegations very seriously and have taken immediate and substantial actions to ensure a full and thorough investigation in order to pursue justice with any and all appropriate actions."

The big picture: There were 7,825 sexual assault reports involving service members as victims in 2019, up 3% from the previous year, per the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

  • While the military has been criticized for its handling of sexual misconduct allegations for years, the issue gained renewed attention following the murder of 20-year-old Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who told family and friends she had been sexually harassed before she disappeared from Fort Hood in April 2020.
  • An independent review of the case found that "there was a permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment at Fort Hood. "
  • In one of his first official acts as Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed senior military leaders to send him reports on sexual assault prevention programs so the department can evaluate which initiatives have been most effective.

Go deeper: Austin calls video claiming military allowed perpetrator to remain in service "disturbing"

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