HOUSTON (KXAN) — The family of murdered Spc. Vanessa Guillén isn’t giving up on the quest for major changes within the U.S. Army.
The Guillén family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss their recent meeting with Gen. John M. Murray and other military leaders to review the investigation.
Guillén’s case drew international attention in April last year after she went missing from Fort Hood and then when her remains were discovered in July along a Bell County river.
Earlier this year, the Army released findings of an investigation into the events surrounding Guillén’s death. She died on April 22, 2020, and authorities believe Spc. Aaron Robinson killed her. Investigators said in the report that Robinson managed to flee after a series of missteps and fatally shot himself.
Among the report’s findings, investigators said Guillén was sexually harassed and reported it on two separate occasions. They said Guillén’s leaders failed to take appropriate action, and the allegations were not moved up the chain of command.
“We definitely cannot accept or allow the Army to continue saying that she was not sexually harassed by Aaron Robinson,” Khawam said Tuesday. “Their investigation concluded that he sexually harassed other soldiers. So why stop short of being transparent and saying, ‘Our evidence has not found it but it’s possible’?”
Most notably, the group pushed for justice to be done for Vanessa by holding accountable those who remain in the army.
“Nobody has been completely removed,” said Khawam. “They’ve been ‘relived’ of their command, but they’re still collecting a paycheck. So us taxpayers are still paying for these perverts and problems to be in the system.”
Federal lawmakers introduced the Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act in Congress. The bill would take decisions about how to handle sexual assault outside the chain of command and give them to independent military prosecutors.
The Guillén family and Khawam said Army indicated to them that the criminal investigation is closed but the administrative investigation is ongoing. They said that while accountability is a top priority, they’re “keeping their eye on the ball” to get meaningful, lasting legislation implemented soon.