An investigation of sexual assault allegations involving multiple instructors at Fort Sill concluded Aug. 19, 2021, with no charges filed. Photo by Marcus Fichtl.
Military prosecutors at Fort Sill concluded Thursday, Aug. 19, that they could not substantiate any of the explosive allegations of sexual assault made against instructors at the Army training base.
When The Intercept originally reported on the story in April, the alleged assaults were described as a “sex ring” and “Fort Hood 2.0,” but according to US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), 3,000 hours of investigative work found “no probable cause to believe any of the allegations occurred.”
The original accuser, a soldier attending Advanced Individual Training at the Fires Center of Excellence, reported to her chain of command on March 27 that she had been assaulted by multiple soldiers, including members of the training cadre, on multiple occasions. During the course of the investigation, two more accusers came forward to make allegations against members of the unit. Their allegations were incorporated into the investigation and have also been dismissed as unfounded.
At a press conference held Thursday to discuss the findings, the investigative team refused to confirm the number of trainers and other Fort Sill staff who were investigated because of privacy concerns.
The CID investigative task force for the case was significant, officials said. More than 30 experienced CID agents investigated the claims, officials said, and the FBI was consulted. Overall, the team conducted more than 700 interviews with cadre members and current soldiers. Investigators said they had also interviewed a majority of the soldiers who had been assigned to the unit for the six months prior to the alleged incidents. They also reviewed more than 5,000 documents and 100,000 text messages.
There are more than 188 security cameras on Fort Sill, investigators said. The task force was able to review security footage from the date, time, and location of every allegation, but prosecutors did not say specifically whether any security footage was able to support or rule out an allegation.
The Intercept reported in April that video of an assault had been circulating at the base. At the Thursday press conference, Capt. Courtney Richardson Jones, the special victims prosecutor assigned to the case, would not confirm or deny the existence of such a tape, citing her inability to discuss specific details of evidence.
Richardson Jones also emphasized that the special victims prosecutor team reviewed all articles under the Unified Code of Military Justice that might apply to the alleged incidents and determined that the evidence did not meet the requirements for any UCMJ charges.
“We’re going to focus on the outcome of this investigation and honor the privacy of all parties involved in this case,” a staff judge advocate spokesperson said. “As you know, these allegations had significant impact on many, many people. And we acknowledge and understand that this has caused tremendous stress for many people, to include those who were named in this investigation and their family members.”
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, commanding general at the Fires Center of Excellence, frequently spoke of a “culture of values” at Fort Sill during Thursday’s press conference. “Our goal is to root out harmful behaviors that negatively impact our ability to build cohesive teams where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential,” Kamper said.
The accused, who were suspended from duty following the allegations, will return to their military careers. All three accusers have left the Army for reasons unrelated to the sexual assault allegations, said Col. Tanya Blackwell, who was the staff judge advocate for the Fires Center of Excellence over the course of the investigation.
“Despite the probable cause determination in this case, Fort Sill remains committed to taking every allegation of sexual harassment and sexual assault with the utmost seriousness,” Blackwell said.
Maggie BenZvi is a contributing editor for Coffee or Die. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University, and has worked for the ACLU as well as the International Rescue Committee. She has also completed a summer journalism program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In addition to her work at Coffee or Die, she’s a stay-at-home mom and, notably, does not drink coffee. Got a tip? Get in touch!
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