More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to a bill reforming how the military handles sexual assault and harassment, named in honor of 20-year-old murdered Army soldier Vanessa Guillén.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, one of the co-sponsors, said that as a veteran himself, “we still don’t do nearly enough to address sexual assault in the ranks. We need to make sure we are creating a system and culture of accountability in the military to protect our women and men in uniform.”
He added: “The military failed Vanessa Guillén but I refuse to let Congress fail her or her family. It is Congress that decides what kind of military we have and now.”
The I am Vanessa Guillén Act would remove prosecution decisions for sexual misconduct to a separate office outside the chain of command and create an independent military offense for sexual harassment. There would be a confidential reporting process as well as new protocols for service members to seek damages against the U.S. Department of Defense for sexual misconduct.
As reported by KCBD in Lubbock, a fellow soldier allegedly beat Guillén to death on the base of Fort Hood in Texas sometime subsequent to the afternoon of April 22. He and his girlfriend burned Guillén’s body, and the suspected killer shot himself before police could arrest him. Guillén had alleged sexual harassment prior to her death, and while the military is investigating those claims it has not yet linked the murder to them.