Fort Sill commander Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper told reporters Thursday that the trainee reported the incident March 27 and an investigation was launched within hours.
Kamper said he was limited from offering more details, such as where the incident took place and how many instructors were allegedly involved.
A person familiar with the incident told Army Times that more than 20 individuals were under investigation in the wake of the initial report, and there are potentially more victims based on the allegations. The Intercept first reported that 22 service members were being investigated.
“In our statement, the way we are characterizing it is cadre members. I will leave it at that. That means more than one,” Kamper said Thursday. “In an attempt to protect the integrity of the investigation we won’t go into much more detail than that.”
A Fort Sill spokesperson reiterated over the telephone Friday that the post can not say anything more about the number of instructors allegedly involved.
“What’s important is we’ve taken immediate action with any cadre member that has been named and possibly involved in this allegation,” Kamper said.
“We’ve removed them from their normal duties. They’ve been suspended,” Kamper added. “And with that, we will conduct a full and thorough investigation. We will pursue the facts wherever they lead us and we’ll take any and all appropriate action as the investigation concludes.”
CID agents began conducting initial interviews within hours of the sexual assault allegation being reported, and that investigation has continued this week, according to Fort Sill.
Fort Sill also asked for, and received, extra investigative help from the Department of the Army, to include additional specialized CID personnel and more attorneys.
“The Army has moved fast to help us ensure that we have all the resources necessary to fully and completely investigate these allegations,” Kamper added.
Fort Sill hosts basic training and advanced individual training for soldiers. But Kamper would not elaborate on the training environment in which the incident allegedly occurred.
The woman who made the initial report has been assigned a special victims counsel and is safe, according to Fort Sill. Though few details were provided Thursday, Kamper acknowledged that this case is significant.
“I have had experience with sexual assault allegations and cases,” Kamper said. “Not very often do we see the characterization of being assault by cadre members. That’s the significance here.”
Sexual assault has been a rising focal point in the Army since allegations arose that Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a soldier killed inside an armory at Fort Hood, Texas, was sexually harassed before her death but did not report it for fear of retribution from her chain of command.
A study released by the Defense Department in May 2020 showed that the military still has a long way to go when it comes to stamping out sexual misconduct, as well as the toxic and harassing command cultures that set the stage for sexual violence.
Overall, the annual report found that sexual assault reports were up 3 percent in fiscal year 2019, for a total of 6,236.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.