Posts tagged with "Sexual Harassment"

Guillen illustration

The Murder of Fort Hood Soldier, Vanessa Guillen

By Emmet McGeown


“How can this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty? How can this just happen and then let it go under the rug like it was nothing?” These were the words of Mayra Guillen, sister of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who has been missing for months and is now confirmed dead.  

On April 22nd, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Hispanic Small Arms and Artillery Repairer, went missing. She was last seen alive at a parking lot at squadron headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. For months, Pfc. Guillen’s family held out hope that their beloved was still alive, yet the discovery of remains near the Leon River, north of Austin, has vanquished that hope. While the FBI is still awaiting a positive DNA analysis, the family believes that the remains belong to Vanessa.  

Yet, this story does not begin with her disappearance nor does it end with her death. Prior to her vanishing, Pfc. Guillen, according to her sisters, was having difficulties with sexual harassment while stationed at Fort Hood, outside Killeen, Texas. The attorney representing the family in the case revealed that Guillen had confided to her sisters and several other soldiers that a superior had walked in on her while taking a shower and that he proceeded to sit down and watch her. Other relatives and Pfc. Guillen’s boyfriend have noted on social media that something is “not right” and that Vanessa felt unsafe at the military base.  

However, during a press conference on Thursday, July 2nd, senior special agent for the Fort Hood Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), Damon Phelps, reported that there was no evidence backing the claim that she had been sexually harassed. He affirmed that “there has been no information — and we have interviewed hundreds of people… There is no credible information about that.” Despite this rebut by CID, family attorney, Natalie Khawam said, in an interview with PEOPLE, that she believes Pfc. Guillens was sexually harassed by Spc. Aaron David Robinson.

Spc. Robinson was the leading suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, and as authorities caught up with him on Tuesday evening, he shot himself. It has since been revealed that Robinson was, in fact, responsible for the murder of Pfc. Guillen’s. Guillen’s was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the armory where she worked, according to the family’s attorney. They made this discovery through an extensive investigation, in which witnesses divulged that they saw Robinson transporting a large box labelled “very heavy in weight.”

Then, after consenting to an examination of his cellphone records, court documents reveal, it was discovered that Robinson made several phone-calls to his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar on the night of Apri 22nd and into the early hours of the April 23rd. After being interviewed multiple times, Aguilar finally told investigators that her boyfriend had murdered Guillen. She also revealed how she and her boyfriend had met up and dismembered Guillen’s body together with a “hatchet or machete type knife” and, after attempting to set her corpse on fire, buried Guillen’s body parts in three different holes. Texas Rangers have since arrested Aguilar and she now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  

The issue of sexual harassment within the Army remains a problem in this case, given that Guillen’s family, according to their attorney, claimed that Vanessa was planning on reporting Robinson the day after she was murdered, and had delayed over fear of reprisal and inaction. Yet the Army says there exists no credible evidence that she was sexually harassed before her disappearance, and in a statement from the Fort Hood Press Center, officials said that the criminal investigation “has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.” They plan to continue their investigation in light of new revelations. 

Lupe Guillen, another sister of Vanessa’s, told NPR that her sister wanted to be in the military since she was a little girl, “she wanted to be a fighter. She wanted to be a hero. She wanted to be someone in life. … The military failed her.

The family is now pushing for legislation to create an independent agency for soldiers who are victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

After a year Vanessa’s fiancé speaks out claiming “They failed us,” see the full ABC interview here.

For more updated information and to read other statements from family and friends click here.

It has been a year since Vanessa’s body was found and her family members, friends, and fellow military members still have many unanswered questions. While it is assumed that Vanessa’s killer was one of another soldier stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, Aaron Robinson, the army is still investigating. Her fiancé spoke to ABC last week, discussing his anger and frustration at the lack of answers and closure he, her family and friends have. Many are upset with how the Army handled the situation and investigation. Interrogating her friends instead of going after Robinson, who many suspected from the beginning.

Her family now hopes that the “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill, which will make sexual harassment a crime in military law will be approved and help prevent other soldiers from being harassed while defending their country, and other families from feeling the loss they do.

Stay tuned to 360 Magazine for more updates and links to current articles and videos.

ABC will also be airing coverage every week until someone is convicted.

Not Me App

Women of color experience harassment at greater rates than other women –studies show that 25% of all black women are harassed. Blacks also reported a 60% higher rate of discrimination compared to whites.
 
Ninety percent of employees who are the victims of harassment never file a formal complaint, now with the #NotMe App, safety is literally in everyone’s hands.
 
#NotMe is a free mobile misconduct solution that supports anyone who needs help. The open platform empowers anyone to safely report misconduct they’ve witnessed or experienced, in real time, right on their mobile device in as little as 3 minutes. Reporting can also be anonymous, eliminating fear of retaliation in the workplace.

Sick To Death!

This first of its kind film shows the filmmaker’s personal struggle with thyroid disease and the medical confusion and negligence that surrounds it.

The award-winning documentary Sick to Death! exposes the medical incompetence surrounding the treatment of one of America’s most common illnesses as experienced by New Orleans filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West, and debuted online January 18, 2018.

Sick to Death! has received a Guggenheim Award and three Impact Doc Awards prior to the world premiere sold out screenings at the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival.

“Thyroid disease is THE MOST misdiagnosed disease in American medicine, ” said New Orleans physician Dr. Charles Mary, II in Sick to Death!

“I cried when I realized I should have been diagnosed as a child, but when I realized that millions of people were sick, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed despite medical information being available, I was angry and change became my mission.” said Hadleigh-West. “The purpose of the film is to expose the problem through many people’s stories, experts, historians and statistical data.”

In Sick to Death! Hadleigh-West unflinchingly exposes her 30-year struggle to regain her health. Sick to Death! is both a call-to-action and a quirky, raw film which examines the maze most patients face in seeking treatment in today’s disturbing medical reality. This film uses thyroid disease as a metaphor for all illnesses and provides the viewer a roadmap for how to negotiate their individual health challenges.

Sick to Death! is available on VIMEO

About Maggie Hadleigh-West:

As early as 1991, Maggie Hadleigh-West created the first film on the sexual harassment of women in public, War Zone (1991/1998). Her film Player Hating (2011) was praised by SLANT magazine as “one of the more intimate and revealing looks at American (housing) projects ever made.” Sick to Death! is the first feature length documentary on thyroid disease and complications that surround it.

Hadleigh-West is a 2017 Impact Doc Awards winner, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Award Winner, 2010 Indie Fest: Audience Impact Merit Award Winner, 2010 Accolade Merit Award Winner, 2009, 2006, and 2005 Alcyon Foundation Fellow, a 2004 New York State Council on the Arts Fellow, 2001 University of Louisville Distinguished Professor Nominee, 2000 Rockefeller Fellow Nominee and a 1998 Berlin Film Festival Caligari Nominee. Over the course of her career, Maggie Hadleigh-West has been internationally recognized as an activist, independent filmmaker, public speaker and the founder of YoMaggie Productions, LLC. Sick to Death! Is her 5th film. Her fourth film, and second feature documentary Player Hating: A Love Story follows the life of hip-hop artist Half-a-Mill as he struggles to escape ghetto obscurity for fame. Her well known feature length documentary, War Zone, covers the public harassment of women, turning the lens of her camera on her harassers.