WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday told the family of a young female soldier killed at the Fort Hood, Texas, military base that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Army were investigating her death.
“We didn’t want this swept under the rug,” Trump told a tearful Gloria Guillen, the mother of Vanessa Guillen, during a meeting in the Oval Office. “They’re doing a very strong investigation. … We’ll get to the bottom of it.”
The remains of Guillen, 20, were discovered in June, months after she disappeared from the base. Her family claimed she had been sexually harassed before her disappearance in April, but Army officials say no sexual harassment reports were filed.
The U.S. Army on Thursday said an independent panel of five experts would investigate whether personnel at Fort Hood had allowed a climate of sexual harassment and discrimination at the base.
Trump said Guillen’s death “hit me very hard” and offered to pay for her funeral. He said he had done so in other cases, using his own money.
He also offered his support for legislation to reform prosecution of sexual assault cases in the military.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command announced on July 1 that one military suspect in the case was dead after taking his own life in Killeen, Texas, and a civilian suspect had been arrested.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert, writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Susan Heavey and Jonathan Oatis)