Sexual assault allegations at Fort Sill draw Oklahoma lawmakers' concerns
By CHRIS CASTEEL | The Oklahoman | Published: April 2, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — Oklahoma lawmakers pledged Friday to monitor the investigation of sexual assault allegations made by a soldier at Fort Sill, as a post commander said officials acted quickly to protect the soldier and launch a probe.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, "has been briefed on the situation and has been assured that the base and the Army are taking the necessary action to investigate this and are following all sexual assault protocols, including providing support and resources for the victim and her family," an Inhofe spokesperson said.
"He expects to be kept informed of the investigation as it progresses."
Rep. Tom Cole, R- Moore, whose district includes the southwest Oklahoma post, said, "I am extremely disturbed by the news concerning Fort Sill. These are very serious allegations that must be investigated fully, and I trust that the process ahead will ensure justice is served."
Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, Commanding General of the Fires Center of Excellence at the artillery training post, made the allegations public at a news conference on Thursday. The general said a soldier reported on March 27 that she had been sexually assaulted.
He said the soldier was "absolutely safe" and that she has a special victims' counsel — a military attorney who specializes in representing victims of sexual assault — and access to all victims' services. He said she had not been hospitalized.
The Army's criminal investigative division (CID) began conducting interviews on March 27, he said, and agents did follow-up interviews on Monday and "every day since," he said.
"The (instructors) potentially involved in this allegation have been suspended from their normal duties, removed from any trainee environment and all are presumed innocent pending a full and thorough investigation," Kamper said.
The general acknowledged that sexual assault has been a problem throughout the Defense Department and said the thought of it happening at Fort Sill "deeply saddens me."
He declined to disclose specific numbers of past cases at Fort Sill but said post leadership studied "every instance of sexual assault allegation" earlier this year.
"We will not tolerate sexual assault as it tears apart the fabric of our unit cohesion, it hurts our soldiers and their families ... and it negatively impacts our mission to serve and protect America," Kamper said.
"We take these allegations very seriously, and we've taken immediate and substantial actions to ensure a full and thorough investigation in order to pursue justice with any and all appropriate action."