Multiple news agencies are reporting that 20 or more soldiers have been suspended pending an investigation into a sexual assault on Fort Sill.
The Intercept, an online publication that launched in February 2014, and the Army Times first reported Department of the Army law enforcement are investigating reports of multiple assaults against a female soldier by 22 service members.
In a press conference Thursday, Fort Sill Commander Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper said special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are investigating allegations of sexual assault involving Fort Sill cadre reported by a female trainee.
During the press conference Kamper said a trainee assigned to Fort Sill had reported a sexual assault to post officials. He didn’t say when the assault took place, but said the female trainee made the report March 27.
The incidents at times involved groups of assailants, an official who has seen the report told The Intercept. They said the woman identified seven of the 22 members she said assaulted her.
The Intercept reported a video was circulating around post of at least one of the incidents and that investigators have been given the video.
However, Maj. Orlandon Howard, public affairs officer of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and spokesperson for the investigation, said Monday this claim was false.
“There is no video in the hands of investigators,” Howard said. “That claim is false.”
Howard declined to comment regarding the existence of the video to “protect the integrity of the investigation.”
The Intercept reported multiple personnel from 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery Regiment had been removed from training duties as a result of the investigation.
Although he gave no details of the assault, Kamper said all cadre involved in the allegation have been suspended and removed from any training environment. Cadre is generally any soldier, besides trainees, assigned permanently to a training unit.
“I am extremely disturbed by the news concerning Fort Sill,” Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole said in a statement. “These are very serious allegations that must be investigated fully, and I trust that the process ahead will ensure justice is served.”
When asked during a press conference Thursday if this was an isolated incident, Kamper said sexual assault is a national problem.
“When we look at the Department of Defense, our new secretary’s words about the sexual assault and when we look at our Army’s commitment over time to root out sexual assault, it hurts our soldiers and families. It’s terrible to for unit cohesion and is detrimental to our mission,” Kamper said.