Former Wisconsin Air National Guard officer under fire for Vanessa Guillen comments says they were taken out of context

Lt. Col. Betsy Schoeller is shown at the Logistics Readiness University in Savannah, Ga., on June 27, 2012.


By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: July 4, 2020

MILWAUKEE — A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee lecturer who is under fire for making comments about the death of U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillén said that they were taken out of context.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Betsy Schoeller, a former Wisconsin Air National Guard officer, posted comments on Facebook about Spc. Guillén's death, saying sexual harassment is the price of admission for women in the military and "if you're gonna cry like a snowflake about it, you're gonna pay the price."

Guillén, 20, disappeared at Fort Hood in April. Remains of what's believed to be Guillén's body were discovered Tuesday in Central Texas. Federal and military investigators say fellow soldier Aaron David Robinson killed and dismembered her. Robinson killed himself Wednesday as police were trying to contact him.

Guillén's family has said they believe Robinson was sexually harassing Guillén. Army investigators have said there's no credible information proving those allegations.

Schoeller said in a statement released Sunday by UW-Milwaukee that she is "shocked and saddened that my original post was interpreted out of context." She said she replied to a post that was searching for how and why Guillén's death happened.

"I did not mean to imply that this is how I feel," she said. "I was giving voice to the messaging that women hear in the culture of sexual harassment: The message we receive from the culture is not only will you suffer from sexual harassment, if you squawk about it, you will suffer even more. Because it isn’t just the sexual harassment. That’s just the beginning."

"Then comes the agonizing decision about reporting.  Or not reporting.  The pressure applied by friends who know about it and only want to help. Having to ultimately stand up to that culture of sexual harassment on your own. Adding suffering on top of suffering."

UW-Milwaukee student Emily Cruz started a petition on Friday demanding UW-Milwaukee fire Schoeller. The petition has nearly 15,000 signatures.

"As a woman, and a student at UWM I feel unsafe knowing that we have professors who think the sexual assault of women serving in the military is justified," Cruz wrote.

University officials tweeted that Guillén's death is horrifying but they can't regulate its employees' private speech.