The Army will not bring criminal charges against Fort Sill, Oklahoma, drill sergeants and instructors accused of sexual assault earlier this year, officials announced in a Thursday media conference.
“Military prosecutors determined...they had no probable cause to believe the allegations occurred,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, the installation’s commanding general. “I have confidence in the independent military prosecutor’s determination.”
Kamper said he did not have a role in the decision not to charge the instructors, who were suspended during the investigation and are returning to their duty positions immediately.
Other panelists in the news conference spoke on background.
A special victims prosecutor said that they “looked at any [Uniform Code of Military Justice] article that could apply to the investigation,” including Article 93a, which criminalizes even consensual sexual contact between military instructors and their trainees.
“At the conclusion of that review, our determination was that the evidence did not substantiate the allegation,” the prosecutor said.
Army officials also refused to disclose how many instructors were named in the investigation due to privacy concerns, yet they specified the number of Advanced Individual Training troops who made sexual assault reports — three — and told reporters that they were no longer in the Army for reasons unrelated to their reports.
“We’re gonna focus on the outcome of this investigation and honor the privacy of all parties involved in this case,” said a staff judge advocate spokesperson. “As you know, these allegations had significant impact on many, many people. And we acknowledge and understand that this has caused tremendous stress for many people to include those who were named in this investigation and their family members.”
The Intercept reported in March that 22 soldiers allegedly assaulted one of the soldiers who made a sexual assault report.
At the time, a person familiar with the incident told Army Times that more than 20 individuals were under investigation in the wake of the initial report.
The two additional individuals reported their sexual assaults during extensive interviews conducted by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Command, known as CID.
An Army criminal investigator associated with the case said CID special agents conducted over 700 interviews and reviewed documents, security camera footage and text messages related to the allegations.
The FBI also assisted on the case, the investigator said.
Despite the high-profile case ending in unsubstantiated allegations and the trainees’ purportedly unrelated departure from the Army, Kamper encouraged survivors of sexual assault to report their experiences.
“So we take every report of sexual assault or sexual harassment with the utmost seriousness,” Kamper said. “We encourage reporting because our goal is to root out harmful behaviors that negatively impact our ability to build cohesive teams where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.”
Kamper left the teleconference before taking any questions.
Before taking the reins at Fort Sill, Kamper was the deputy commander of Fort Hood, Texas, until February 2020. His tenure there covered the majority of the time period covered by the report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, but he was not named in the report.
A Rand Corporation study in March found that 31 percent of men and 28 percent of women in the military say they experienced retaliation after a sexual assault, whether they reported it or not.
And that rate increases when survivors report.
The same study found that 54 percent of women who report their assault to a mandatory reporter or file an unrestricted report experience either social or professional retaliation.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.