Fort Hood Independent Review Committee ReportJanuary 18, 2021
The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee Report was published on 06 November 2020. The complete report is available for review, at this link.
The formation of this committee, and the publishing of said report, was in response to the disappearance and murder of SPC Vanessa Guillen. The Committee completed an investigation separate from the two other investigations (CID and 15-6).
Anyone interested should read the entire report, available at the link above. The findings and recommendations should be concerning for a Soldier accused of any sexual crime (sexual assault, rape, abusive sexual conduct, sexual harassment, etc.) Essentially, the Committee determined that Fort Hood's SHARP program was deficient and that fact deterred reporting. Of particular concern is finding number 5: "The Mechanics Of The Army’s Adjudication Processes Involving Sexual Assault And Sexual Harassment Degrade Confidence In The SHARP Program."
Any Soldier accused of sexual misconduct is entitled to due process. This is a basic tenant of our Democracy. Due process takes time and requires that a Soldier be given adequate time to prepare a defense and only be convicted if the allegations against him/her are proven beyond a reasonable doubt (if facing a Court-Martial). The fear, with this finding, is that the Army is going to try to speed up the process of Courts-Martial and other adjudicative matters and take away a Soldier's due process rights.
Furthermore, this report, as well as the current public narrative, applies significant pressure on Commanders and other members of the military to punish anyone accused of sexual misconduct. While it isn't allowed, Soldiers face a reality where they are actually presumed guilty as soon as someone points the finger at them.
The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee Report is likely going to result in an even tougher road towards vindication for any Soldier accused of sexual misconduct. This will include providing a great deal of resources towards supporting anyone who claims to be a victim and under-resourcing anyone defending or supporting the Soldier accused of the crime. It is more important now, than ever, for a Soldier accused of sexual misconduct to balance the scales by hiring an experienced Civilian Military Lawyer.
This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.