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Army sends additional criminal investigators to Fort Sill following sexual assault allegation


Additional Army criminal investigators have been sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the wake of a soldier’s allegation about sexual assault that may have involved multiple Army personnel in more than one incident, several Army officials told CNN.

According to the post’s commanding general, a trainee at Fort Sill reported on March 27 that she was the victim of sexual assault.

In a press conference last week, Commanding General Ken Kamper would not detail when any of the alleged incidents took place. The individual has been given a victim’s counsel and access to all victim services, he said. She is in advanced training, which occurs after basic training, according to Kamper.

He did not say how many personnel in a specific unit — described as a “cadre,” which conducts soldier training — may be under investigation.

“We’ve taken immediate action with any cadre member that has been named and possibly involved in this allegation. We’ve removed them from their normal duties. They’ve been suspended,” Kamper said on Thursday.

Those removed from training duty are now working “outside of a trainee environment and really to protect the safety and well-being of all the other soldiers,” Kamper said.

Pending the results of the criminal investigation, the next step could be criminal charges, one Army official told CNN on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. There is also likely to be a separate overall investigation into the alleged incident and how it might have happened.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “has been kept informed about the investigative efforts at Fort Sill.” Kirby said he would not get ahead of the investigation, but said “the Secretary knows that the Army and Army leadership is taking this incident seriously.”

The alleged incident and investigation comes as the Pentagon is carrying out an urgent review to determine which US military installations and units are “high-risk” for service members becoming victims of sexual harassment and assault.

The review was ordered by Austin in late February and follows the unveiling of a wider inquiry into sexual assault and harassment in the military with the establishment of a 90-day commission just days after President Joe Biden took office in January.

In his February memo, Austin said he wanted details on “installations and units that are of greatest concern as well as those that are showing promise.”

A defense official said in March that the Pentagon planned to start surveying troops to “develop the full picture of risk across all DoD installations.” The survey would include troops and leadership to see how top commanders are responding to problems, the official said.

Last month, Biden stressed the importance of the issue, stating that sexual assault in the military is “nothing less than a threat to our national security.”

“This is going to be an all-hands-on deck effort under my administration to end the scourge of sexual assault in the military,” he said as he marked International Women’s Day at the White House.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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