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Home / Tips and Tricks / Legislature reveals bipartisan law named after Vanessa Guillen to change how sexual harassment is reported in the military

Legislature reveals bipartisan law named after Vanessa Guillen to change how sexual harassment is reported in the military



Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that she met with the Guillen family on Wednesday morning and committed to putting the bill to a vote on the floor of the house. The timing of the vote would be “either in the next few weeks or in November,” according to the law’s main sponsor, California Democratic MP Jackie Speier.

The “I am Vanessa Guillen Act” would make sexual harassment a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and remove law enforcement decisions related to sexual assault and harassment from the military chain of command, according to sponsors of the law.

In the military justice system, commanders review the results of the criminal investigation and decide whether to convene a court martial to prosecute the indictment.

The bill already has 73 cosponsors ̵

1; both Democrats and Republicans – in the house, Speier said.

“This law will turn tragedy into change,” Speier said Wednesday during a press conference on Capitol Hill with fellow lawyers and Guillen’s parents and sisters.

The bill would also require an independent prosecutor to decide whether a case is progressing and allow victims to file claims with the Department of Defense for damages, Speier said. The bill would also initiate an external review by the US Government Accountability Office of the military’s sexual harassment program and its protocols for missing persons.

“In her death, she will serve her brothers and sisters in the arms of her brothers and sisters for years, protecting the other men and women who may have no voice before and now have a place to go,” said Markwayne Mullin Republican MP of Oklahoma said during the press conference on Wednesday.

20-year-old Guillen disappeared in April and her remains were found in a shallow grave on June 30, according to family lawyer Natalie Khawam. Guillen was beaten to death and her body was removed from the military facility by her killer, Khawam said, citing details the family learned from army investigators.

The prime suspect in her disappearance, another Fort Hood soldier, Spc. Aaron Robinson killed himself in July when he was confronted by police in Killeen, Texas.

Khawam said the family told her Guillen planned to file a harassment complaint against Robinson the day after her death.

“The Army and Ft. Hood have failed them. But on their behalf we are making the sweeping changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again,” said Texas Democratic MP Sylvia Garcia, the representative the Guillens in Congress, on Wednesday. “The ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020’ is a transformative law that will save lives and help keep our women and men safe in these armed forces.”

Choked to death, Garcia added, “Although we can never bring Vanessa back, today we honor her memory.”

Mullin suggested that while President Donald Trump did not see the text of the law, he would support the legislation and “feel obliged to help Vanessa’s family”.

Trump met with family at the White House in July and when he pushed for support for the bill, he said he would look into it.

Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono is also planning to introduce ancillary legislation in the Republican-led US Senate.

“You have our promise that we will ensure that Vanessa’s life is not lost in vain. You can be proudly reminded that her presence will take place on any military base if it is converted into an institution that protects its service members”, said Speier, addressing the Guillen family directly.

In a statement to CNN in late July, Fort Hood officials told CNN that there had been 23 base deaths this year.

Speier also announced that she will lead a congressional delegation to Fort Hood this weekend, where she will speak to soldiers, military police and police in Killeen and visit the “Vanessa Guillen crime scene and site.”

This story was updated on Wednesday with further developments.

Amir Vera and Lori Daniel from CNN contributed to this report.


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