Congressman Gonzales Co-Sponsors Bipartisan I am Vanessa Guillén Act Reforming Military Sexual Violence Protocol
I joined House colleagues on recently in introducing the I am Vanessa Guillén Act. This bill honors the memory of Vanessa Guillén by improving the military’s response to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
As a father, veteran, and Texan, the murder of Vanessa Guillén hit close to home. The handling of this sexual assault case is not unique to the Army and there needs to be significant improvement to the way the sexual harassment and assault claims are handled throughout the Armed Forces.
Specifically, the I am Vanessa Guillén Act would:
- Move prosecution decisions on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases outside of the chain of command to an Office of the Chief Prosecutor within each military service;
- Create a standalone military offense for sexual harassment;
- Establish trained sexual harassment investigators who are outside of the chain of command of the complainant and the accused;
- Require both DoD and GAO to conduct separate evaluations of the military services’ Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) programs;
- Reform and professionalize the Army’s SHARP program by establishing civilian leadership and ensuring that victim advocates and sexual assault response coordinators are full-time positions and report to an independent chain of command; and
- Establish a process by which servicemembers can make claims for negligence and seek compensatory damages against DoD in the case of sexual assault or sexual harassment.