UPDATE, Jan. 8: The commander of Fort Bliss announced Friday night that court-martial proceedings had been initiated against a fellow soldier for sex assault against a female soldier who died on New Year’s Eve in her barracks room.
The cause of death of Asia Graham was still pending autopsy results at last word, but Army investigators had said foul play was not suspected.
Her family revealed, and the Army subsequently confirmed, that an investigation into an alleged sexual assault of Graham had been underway at the time of her death.
Fort Bliss officials confirmed that the soldier facing charges is a man but didn't identify him.
Maj. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commanding general for Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division, did not identify the soldier being charged, nor did he provide any further details about the alleged assault or the circumstances surrounding Graham’s death.
ORIGINAL REPORT, Jan. 5: EL PASO, Texas -- The 19-year-old Fort Bliss soldier found dead on New Year's Eve in her barracks had allegedly been sexually assaulted by another soldier at the post and was seeking justice at the time of her death, Army officials confirmed Tuesday to ABC-7.
The Army's Criminal Investigation Division indicated it doesn't suspect foul play in the death of PFC Asia Graham, although officials won't discuss how she died until after a pending autopsy report is completed.
The Army said she had reported being attacked by another soldier just over a year ago after being assigned to the 1st Armored Division and stationed at Fort Bliss.
Fort Bliss provided this statement in response to inquiries by ABC-7...
“Pfc. Asia Graham made an initial report of an alleged sexual assault on June 1, 2020. At the time, Pfc. Graham alleged a fellow Pfc. stationed at Fort Bliss sexually assaulted her in December of 2019. As with all allegations of sexual assault, Army Criminal Investigative Command investigated the matter. Charges were preferred against the alleged offender on October 22, 2020, which includes one specification of sexual assault pertaining to Pfc. Graham. Those charges are pending adjudication. Team Bliss is committed to ensuring the fair administration of military justice at all levels of command. Commanders at Fort Bliss remain fully committed to ensuring good order and discipline in their formations while ensuring that every accused Soldier enjoys a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”
Grieving mother Nicole Graham, in interviews with WBTV and WCNC television stations in her daughter's native North Carolina, said she doesn’t feel the Army initially responded well to her daughter’s sexual assault report.
“I was with the military life. I spoke very highly about the military, but in her situation, I think the leadership failed her,” said the mother, whose late husband had served for over two decades in the Army before dying of cancer.
“Do I think she was murdered? No. But do I think if it would have handled better from the beginning, I think she would have had the proper help before and she would have been OK,” Nicole Graham told the stations.
Graham's death comes just four months after two congressional committees launched probes into a number of deaths at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Most notably was the 2020 death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, whose family has maintained she, too, was an Army sexual assault victim.
Those probes led the Army to make a number of command changes at Fort Hood.