The Case of Spc. Vanessa Guillen and Sexual Harassment and Abuse in the Military
Suspected human remains of Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, now Specialist Vanessa Guillen, was found on Tuesday night, June 30th, 2020. This comes after Spc. Guillen went missing late April, from the Fort Hood Army Base Armory, where her keys, ID and wallet were found.
On Wednesday, Army investigators told authorities of Spc. Aaron David Robinson of Illinois’ involvement in the case, and authorities tracked down the suspected killer the same day, after leaving his post on Tuesday night after partial human remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County. When found, Robinson reportedly pulled a gun and shot himself, ending the 20 year old’s own life.
Robinson is thought to have an accomplice, arrested and charged also on Wednesday, who is thought to have helped Robinson mutilate the body and cover up the death of Spc. Guillen. The suspect was identified Thursday, July 2nd, as Cecily Anne Aguilar, the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier, and is being held in Bell Counter Jail until official charges are presented.
Latest Allegations and Reports From Family and Natalie Khawam
Later, Army investigators confirm in an attempt to dispose of the body, Guillen’s body was burnt and later cut up with a machete, stored in a Pelican in the armory, and disposed of in the Leon River. It’s reported that Guillen was killed the same day she disappeared.
According to investigators, who later informed the family attorney, then Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was bludgeoned with a hammer in the armory itself. According to the attorney, who later held a press conference, the killing caused “her blood to be splashed all over the armory room,” Khawam to the Army Times.
Spc. Guillen’s family lawyer, Natalie Khawam, and family held the press conference on Wednesday believing the remains found to be the missing soldier. Khawam reported in a press conference that the young soldier faced horrible sexual harassment from senior soldiers, but never reported it to command, but did however report it to her family and other soldiers on base.
Reports say she knew she would be threatened and in danger, so she kept quite. This was the last known call Spc. Vanessa Guillen made, and her family know of, before she went missing. Khawam said “We believe the person that killed her is that person that sexually harassed her.”
See the full video below:
Since her going missing on April 22nd, the search for Spc. Guillen and the sequence of events that followed are still shrouded in mystery. It’s still unclear what exactly happened to Spc. Vanessa Guillen, and her family and attorney have since gone through a number of obstacles blocking them from receiving all the facts.
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” Khawam said. According to Khawam, her and the family reported the individual, the same one Vanessa Guillen reported, to officials and were the main reason the investigation moved forward so quickly. In fact, she was pushing for investigators to release information that was being kept private, especially when key pieces were revealed to the public media before the victims family. There were definite signs the military were covering up and quieting the investigation, while also not investigating effectively.
Sexual Harassment In The Military
The case of Spc. Vanessa Guillen is tragic and atrocious, and the obstacles the family has faced only show the tip of the iceberg towards the public release of information. That being the case, many women (and men!) in the military face similar situations with sexual harassment. We’ve noticed the surge of cases on social media of individuals coming out with their stories of threats and silencing involved with their attempts to address their sexual harassment in the military.
Currently MSTM is pushing to establish Military Industry Regulatory Authority (MIRA), for the last 2 years. Please, go over to their website and sign their petition to push for this necessary oversight that would regulate the Department of Defense.
You can also sign a petition for congress to step up and change the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), pushing for protections of survivors of military sexual assault.
The Cornell International Human Rights Clinic petitioned with twenty service men and women who were sexual assault victims, who’d been consistently shot down by chain of command and refused certain judicial remedies. Read the telling article on their case suing former Secretaries of Defense. It’s a constant worry of victims of sexual harassment and violence to be ridiculed and suppressed, and forced into inaction.
Follow #iamvanessaguillen, a hashtag trending where individuals who’ve faced sexual harassment and abuse in the military share their stories in support of Vanessa Guillen, and to raise awareness of the dark monster of harassment in the military.
It’s known that a wide set of cases go unreported, mishandled or silenced, especially in the military. When commanding officers and the military’s “reputation” is potentially at risk, it’s hard to have your voice heard by those in command.
WeeklyReviewer stands with those trying to seek justice for these unaddressed crimes, and want their stories to be heard. Below we’ve included the Facebook posts of individuals we’ve contacted, who’ve approved their use on our site. Please read the shocking and compelling stories outlining abuse from harassers and senior command that absolutely horrifies us.
We’d like to continue adding to this page as we contact and are contacted by concerned victims. We know it’s important your voice is heard, and we’d like to help by giving your story our voice.
Stories of Current and Former Military Who’ve Faced Sexual Harassment and Abuse
Below we’ve put together recent stories from personal experiences we’ve found and gotten permission to share here. Please read through and share them to raise awareness of the massive struggle of sexual harassment in the military. These stories outline forms of sexual assault and abuse, and various forms of harassment these individuals have faced. Show them the love and support they deserve, as it’s our responsibility to act now.
We hope these heart wrenching stories will knock some sense into the military, and shine a light on an issue that largely get’s swept under the rug.
Some individuals choose to remain anonymous and so instead they’ve agreed to let us post their story anonymously.
Read Melissa Voto’s story:
Read Julissa Mondragon’s story:
Read Morgan Mcclellon’s story:
Read Tiffany Summa’s story:
Read Nadia Rae Lubetski’s story:
Read Amanda Otapa’s story:
Read Tamina Oien’s story
Read Tricia Jarrait’s story:
Read Maira Carrier’s story:
Read Paula Baca Matus’ story:
Read Albana Martinez’ story:
Read Karina Rojas’ story:
An Anonymous report:
The first time that I was sexually harassed in the military was less than a month after graduating bootcamp. At MCT, one of my instructors (a Sgt) was addressing my platoon of about 60 people and at some point he felt it was appropriate to single me, a 19 year old private, out to make a comment comparing me to porn. I was mortified, and didn’t know what to do so I didn’t do anything.
At my first duty station, Camp Hansen Okinawa Japan I was sexually assaulted, for the first time, less than two months after my arrival in a public place surrounded by people. I reported it, it ended up going all the way to NCIS. I gave multiple statements and identified the man in a photo lineup, but after a six month “investigation” his command decided not to go forward with any punishment. At this point, I am being harassed almost constantly. I couldn’t leave the barracks without being catcalled, followed, approached to be told how attractive I am, or called a bitch when I try my best to ignore it. Guys who are supposed to be my friends lie about sleeping with me, they try to pressure me into sleeping with them or they assault me.
Once on my way home from the PX, a five minute walk from my barracks, a man I’d never seen or spoken to before literally popped out of a bush to tell me that he thought I was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. I thanked him and somehow got away. I ended up seeing him again, in a similar situation, except this time he told me that watching me through my window was his favorite thing to do. I had been in Okinawa for less than 8 months.
A few weeks after that, I moved to a different base (Camp Schwab) where there were about 15 women and roughly 600 men. We shared a barracks with an infantry unit and the sexual harassment I experienced (from grunts and MPs that I worked with) was so bad that I eventually was too afraid to leave my room alone unless it was absolutely necessary. Things that happened when I left my room included being cornered in the laundry room by multiple men, or they would stand in front of my room so that I couldn’t get back in, or they shoved their way into my room to beg me to have sex with them or attempted to assault me. After being told no so many times they would usually try to bargain with “if you do *sexual act*, I’ll leave”. Things that happened while I felt safest, alone in my room, included a barrage of marines that came pounding on my door at all hours of the night. I could hear them talk about me and the things they’d like to do to me outside of my door and window, while I would try to sleep.
A few people may remember when 3rd LEB was on lockdown because a junior marine reported an NCO for harassment. Because of that, the SNCO Duty was to sit at the barracks overnight with the A Duty. I was paired with a woman, I was excited bc I didn’t often work with women in SNCO ranks. “I don’t know why she reported it. Now we have to do all of this stupid shit. She should have just kept her mouth shut like the rest of us. Doesn’t she know it’s normal for that to happen?”, was what that Ssgt said to me, Lance Corporal Delamain, who had indeed experienced the same exact thing multiple times and who was too scared to do anything about it.
Once I left and got to Pendleton, the CONSTANT harassment died down but never completely went away. The things I brought up are a small portion of what I can remember, there is a lot that I’m not ready to share with the world. I was so exhausted all the time from constantly being on guard and constantly having to defend myself and other women in some way. I was called every name in the book: slut, whore, bitch, feminazi. I was threatened for trying to speak up, screamed at and bullied for standing up for victims. These are just things that happened to me. Reading all of the posts have been harrowing. So many of us experience the same things. And nothing is ever done to fix it.
**** editing to add because it’s so gross and I just remembered- I worked with a guy once who I became friends with, he eventually started to have feelings for me (this is also common for women in the military ), the feelings weren’t reciprocated so he went sour. Once while waiting to be released after a shift, he asked me how I managed to keep my teeth so white, while I was responding he said “it must be because of all of the semen in your mouth”. I didn’t hear it, but not a single person felt the need to reprimand him and I didn’t know that he said that until days later. We were both NCOs. A few weeks after that, he made a similar comment but it was about my eyes, “they must be dry from all that semen” and again nobody, except me, said anything. But when I reported it to my LT immediately, I was the bad guy.
Women in the military are not safe. The military is NOT a safe place for women. Vanessa Guillen has been missing for SIXTY EIGHT DAYS, after bringing up the sexual harassment she experienced to her family. They didn’t “suspect foul play” until last week. Troops don’t go missing like that, without any attempt to locate her for weeks. I Am Vanessa Guillen and SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE. We have been screaming at the top of our lungs for YEARS, WHEN WILL THE MILITARY TREAT SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT WITH THE SEVERITY THEY DESERVE!!!!!!!!
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We’d like to thank everyone who has allowed us to share their story, and we want you to know that we stand with your courageous choice. It shouldn’t be so difficult to receive justice, nor receive acceptance from your peers and we want your strength to empower others to step up.
If you’d like us to include your story here please contact [email protected]
We’ve never written news about the internal workings of the military, and have probably angered 1 or 2 officers. Nonetheless, we hope anyone who takes issue with this article to please consider their perspective, and ours, to hopefully provide a more positive influence on your peers.
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Originally published at https://weeklyreviewer.com on July 3, 2020.