Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved her motion directing LA County to support the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020, which would reform how the military addresses sexual assault, sexual harassment and missing service members:

“Twenty-two year old U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén was reported missing for months until her remains were finally found on June 30, 2020. The tragic and violent death of Specialist Guillén at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas could have been prevented. Months before her death, she had confided in her family that she was being sexually harassed by another service member.

“She did not make an official report because she feared retaliation and believed her complaint would not be taken seriously as sexual harassment complaints made by others had been dismissed. Her death has drawn attention to the sexual abuse that many women and men silently endure while serving in our U.S. armed forces.

“According to an anonymous survey conducted by the Department of Defense, approximately 20,500 service members were sexually assaulted or raped over the course of one year. Yet nearly two-thirds of these cases go unreported. All incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence are unacceptable and must not be tolerated. This is why I am pleased that a bipartisan coalition of elected representatives in Congress have introduced the ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020’ in the House and U.S. Senate.

“This legislation would reform the way the U.S. military investigates the disappearance of a service member, and it would create new protocols for reporting and prosecuting sexual harassment and sexual assault. We must ensure protections are in place for the brave members of the military who serve and protect us and our country. What happened to Vanessa Guillén must never happen again, and we must honor her life and service by supporting this legislation.”

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov