Vanessa Guillen's family has filed a lawsuit of $35 million claim against the US Army following the death of their 20-year-old baby girl on an army base in Texas. A fellow soldier at Fort Hood struck and killed her to death. Additionally, the Federal Tort Claims Act was used to file the case.
I Am Vanessa Guillén on Netflix, directed by Christy Wegener, tells the story of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old soldier who was killed on an army base in Texas. Even more shocking was the fact that her murderer was a fellow soldier, and her family had to fight for justice for their daughter.
The documentary begins with the Guillen's facing an uncertain path to justice for the slain soldier, in part because the military justice system relies on commanders exercising discretion in deciding whether an offense should be charged and how offenders should be punished — a structure that the family and their advocates felt contributed to few answers and little accountability.
Meanwhile, the family of a Texas soldier who was sexually harassed and killed at a US Army post near Killeen in 2020 filed a lawsuit against the US government, seeking $35 million in damages. Vanessa Guillen's family is seeking compensation for sexual harassment, abuse, assault, r*pe, sodomy, and wrongful death. Here is everything you need to know about lawsuits.
The Family of Vanessa Guillen Has Filed a Lawsuit of $35 Million Claim Against the US Army: It Was Filed Under the Federal Tort Claims Act!
Vanessa Guillén's family has filed a lawsuit of $35 million wrongful death claim against the Army after she was bludgeoned to death by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood. The family lawsuit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, one day after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that a former Army colonel's sexual assault case against a retired Air Force general could proceed.
Previously, the military was thought to be immune from sexual abuse damage claims because it was thought to be included in a military doctrine that states soldiers cannot sue over training or combat casualties.
In the Guillén family's case, their attorney Natalie Khawam informed the Army that Guillén was subjected to sexual harassment and assault during her service and that the result was her April 2020 murder inside the Killeen Army base's armory. Khawam stated,
Why would anyone think, 'Let me go sign up and serve our country, fight for our country, take bullets, be maimed, die for our country,' but have no recourse when it comes to something as horrible as sexual assault or something?
If the Army refuses to acknowledge the allegation, Khawam intends to file a federal lawsuit in California because Guillén informed her mother that she was sexually harassed at the National Training Center in 2019 at Fort Irwin while participating in field training exercises in San Bernardino County. An Army investigation corroborated those claims.
Guillén joined the Army shortly after her 18th birthday in 2018, and her family in Houston was overjoyed that she would be stationed at Fort Hood, which was only a three-hour drive away.
Vanessa's personality changed dramatically by the fall of 2019 when she disclosed to her family that she had been sexually harassed by her fellow soldiers, including an incident in which a supervisor flashed a light on her while she was washing up in the woods during training, according to both the Army's report and an affidavit from Guillén's sister, Mayra Guillén.
On another occasion, a supervisor asked Guillén to join a "threes*me" in Spanish. Guillén reported multiple incidents of sexual harassment by a superior in her unit on an informal basis, but the leadership did not take appropriate action. The Army's heavily redacted report contains several examples of how other soldiers became aware that Guillen was being singled out and harassed.
Khawam stated that her legal team interviewed several friends and family members who claimed Guillén was sexually assaulted. Other information has not been provided. Right before going missing on April 22, 2020, Guillén admitted to having suicidal thoughts with her family. However, she had held back from reporting the assaults out of concern for retaliation.
According to a Texas Department of Public Safety report that was accidentally released and later sealed by a judge, Guillén was killed by someone who had not harassed or assaulted her. It explains the motivation behind the killing of Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, who committed suicide.
Robinson's girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, who has also been charged with assisting in the concealment of Guillen's body, told authorities that Guillén had seen Aguilar's photo on Robinson's phone and that Robinson was afraid Guillén would recognize her as another soldier's wife.
According to the DPS report, Robinson told Aguilar he was afraid of getting in trouble for violating the Army's fraternization rules, so he attacked Guillén. Guillén's remains were discovered in Belton, about 20 miles from Fort Hood, two months after she went missing.
Guillén's death prompted the passage of the "I Am Vanessa Guillen Act," which barred military commanders from participating in sexual assault investigations. The National Defense Authorization Act included the provision.