Fort Hood 'permissive' of sexual assaults: panel

(Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy saying:) “This report without a doubt will cause the army to change our culture. ”

An investigative panel looking into a pattern of violent crimes at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas said on Tuesday that they found a command structure that was "permissive" of sexual assaults.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy:

“I’ve determined the issues at Fort Hood are directly related to leadership failures... I’m gravely disappointed that leaders failed to effectively create a climate that treated all soldiers with dignity and respect."

As a result, over a dozen commanders have been suspended or relieved.

The panel was created in July after a series of crimes - including the murder of Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old soldier at the base whose remains were found in June. The 20-year-old soldier had reported being sexually harassed before disappearing in April, according to the Army.

Member of the Fort Hood independent review committee - Keta Rodriguez - found widespread abuse and harassment on base - but little reporting.

“Of the 503 women we interviewed we discovered 93 credible accounts of sexual assault,of those only 59 were reported... What we discovered over the course of those interviews, due to the lack of confidence in the system that lack of confidence absolutely effects the reporting of these incidences”.

Committee Member Carrie Riccie said the findings were important for service members who have felt that they didn’t have a voice.

“We listened and so if any of them see this, I want them to know we believe you. That was a very important take away – was to believe. “

The panel members – who also looked into high numbers of crimes at Fort Hood - said the culture at the largest active duty armored post in the United States must be changed from top to bottom. In September, Fort Hood officials said there had been a record five homicides on the base this year.

Video Transcript

RYAN MCCARTHY: This report, without a doubt, will cause the Army to change our culture.

- An investigative panel looking into a pattern of violent crimes at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas said on Tuesday that they found a command structure that was permissive of sexual assaults. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

RYAN MCCARTHY: I've determined the issues at Fort Hood are directly related to leadership failures. I am gravely disappointed that leaders failed to effectively create a climate that treated all soldiers with dignity and respect.

- As a result, over a dozen commanders have been suspended or relieved. That panel was created in July after a series of crimes, including the murder of Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old soldier at the base whose remains were found in June. The 20-year-old soldier had reported being sexually harassed before disappearing in April, according to the Army. Member of the Fort Hood independent review committee Queta Rodriguez found widespread abuse and harassment on base but little reporting.

QUETA RODRIGUEZ: Of the 503 women that we interviewed, we discovered 93 credible accounts of sexual assault. Of those, only 59 were reported. And so what we discovered during the course of those interviews is that due to the lack of confidence in the system, that lack of confidence absolutely affected-- affects the reporting of those incidents.

- Committee member Carrie Ricci said the findings were important for service members who have felt that they didn't have a voice.

CARRIE RICCI: We listened. And so if any of them see this, I want them to know, we believe you. And that was a really-- that's a really important takeaway, was to believe.

- The panel members, who also looked into high numbers of crimes at Fort Hood, said the culture at the largest active duty armored post in the United States must be changed from top to bottom. In September, Fort Hood officials said there had been a record five homicides on the base this year.