'Large systemic failure' - Advocate renews call for way military handles sex abuse
A local advocate is renewing her call for changes in the way the military handles sexual abuse following the death of a 20-year-old Army service member in Texas.
Vanessa Guillen's death is a senseless tragedy that Military Sexual Trauma CEO Janelle Mendez has fought for years to prevent.
Guillen was found bludgeoned to death and buried in a shallow grave outside of Fort Hood late last month.
Her death triggered a manhunt for a suspect, which led military authorities to Army Spc. Aaron Robinson, who took his own life as officials zeroed in.
But Guillen went missing two months earlier and critics, like Mendez who recently traveled to Texas to speak at rallies following Guillen's death, say the military mishandled the case, including Guillen's allegations of harassment before she went missing and a lack of urgency in the search to find her.
"A large failure. A large systemic failure," said Mendez.
Mendez says a third-party agency would be better to investigate allegations of harassment and sex crimes in the military and is behind a longtime push stalled in Congress for a Military Industry Regulatory Authority.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney says it's our duty to protect service members from sexual harassment and assault. He says this year's proposed National Defense Authorization Act has strong provisions to protect victims as well as safe reporting policies.