AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State representatives met with the family of Specialist Vanessa Guillén for a rally in Killeen on Friday, July 24.
The 22-year-old Fort Hood Military Specialist disappeared in April, allegedly murdered by another specialist at Fort Hood. She told her family, prior to her disappearance, that she had been sexually harassed at Fort Hood, and did not feel she could report it. Now, family members and others across the nation are calling for justice.
State Rep. César Blanco (D-El Paso) was among the representatives Friday. He said he’s planning to file a bill next legislative session called the Vanessa Guillén Act.
“The act will prohibit retaliation, court marshaling, and any other punishment against victims or survivors for reporting sexual assault. The idea is that the bill will ensure criminal sexual assaults can be prosecuted in state courts to the full extent of the law, to hold offenders accountable outside of the military chain of command,” Rep. Blanco said.
He said he also aims to help the families of those who have been assaulted or missing with the new legislation.
“It’ll include expediting justice, in state courts outside of the chain of command. It’ll provide additional resources for victims and their families. And it’ll reform the state’s military procedures for investigating the disappearance of soldiers as we’ve seen, not only in Vanessa Guillén, but in others that were there,” Rep. Blanco said.
The next legislative session begins in January, when Rep. Blanco said he hopes to receive support from both sides of the aisle to pass the bill.
“This shouldn’t be political by any means. And I don’t think it will I, you know, I have full faith in our governor and our lieutenant governor and the Speaker of the House, to make sure that these reforms are implemented. And I’ll work with anyone who agrees, and so we can get this across the finish line next session,” Rep. Blanco said.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and State Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) also met with the Guillén family at Friday’s rally.