Fort Bliss Soldier Charged with Raping Fellow Soldier a Year Before Her New Year's Eve Death

Matthew Cox
·4 min read

A 1st Armored Division soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas has been charged with sexually assaulting three women over the past year, including a fellow soldier who was found dead a year on New Year's Eve.

Pfc. Christian G. Alvarado, of 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, was arraigned on Thursday in a general court-martial hearing and charged with three counts of sexual assault, one count of aggravated assault and two counts of making a false statement to Army investigators, according to a Jan. 7 charge sheet.

Alvarado is accused of raping Fort Bliss soldier Pfc. Asia Graham on Dec. 30, 2019, while she was "unconscious," according to the charge sheet. Graham, who was assigned to the same battalion as Alvarado, died a year later on Dec. 31 after she was found unresponsive in her barracks room.

Army Times was first to report this story Friday.

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Alvarado is also charged with raping an unidentified woman on May 8 in the El Paso, Texas area. The victim was allegedly "incapable of consenting to the sexual act because she was impaired by ... alcohol, and the accused knew or should have known of that condition," the charge sheet states.

On August 26, Alvarado was charged with the sexual assault and ggravated assault of another unidentified woman near Fort Bliss, according to the charge sheet.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Lt. Col. Allie Payne told Military.com said the Army would not say if the two unidentified women in the case were soldiers because of privacy concerns.

Graham was 19 and a native of Cherryville, North Carolina. The investigation into her death is still ongoing, but Army Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, does not suspect foul play, according to Fort Bliss officials, who are awaiting the results of an autopsy for the cause of death.

Graham had reported her sexual assault to her chain of command on June 1. The findings of an investigation conducted from June to October prompted Graham's brigade commander on Nov. 3 to order an Article 32 investigative hearing that was held for Alvarado on Dec. 1.

On Jan. 8, Maj. Gen. Sean Bernabe, the general court-martial convening authority for the case, ordered the referral of charges against Alvarado to general court-martial.

A trial date has not been scheduled for Alvarado, who entered the Army in July 2018 and arrived at Bliss in February 2019.

"As a reminder to the Fort Bliss community, charges are merely accusations and Pfc. Alvarado, like all Americans, is presumed innocent until proven guilty," according to a Fort Bliss news release.

The charges against Alvarado come six months after the Army was shocked by the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, was allegedly murdered by a fellow 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier shortly after going missing from the base. The case prompted Army leaders to launch an independent review of the leadership at Hood, resulting in the finding that the chain of command allowed a culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault to fester unchecked.

Army leaders are now working to take action on 70 recommendations that came out of that review. Among other findings, investigators found major flaws Army's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) program at Hood which leaders suspect may be an Army-wide problem.

Separate from the Fort Hood independent review, the Army selected Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, and one of the Army's most senior commanders, to lead an in-depth investigation into the chain of command's actions related to Guillen.

Graham joined the Army in July 2019 and arrived at Bliss in Dec. 2019 after completing basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and advanced individual training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina to become a human resource specialist.

Col. Geoffrey Whittenberg, commander of the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade, said Graham's unit was "deeply saddened" by death.

"Pfc. Graham was a valued member of the Iron Eagle team and did an outstanding job for this battalion," Whittenberg said in a Jan. 2 news release put out after Graham's death. "Her loss is felt not just in our formations but across the Army. We lost a skilled human resource specialist who wanted nothing more than to serve her country and her battle buddies."

Graham's awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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