Vanessa Guillén and Turning Sexual Harassment Into a Crime

Victoria Pickering

People protesting for Vanessa Guillén and her death. (Cr: Victoria Pickering on Flickr (

Julissa Guevara-Lopez

Vanessa Guillén was a 20 year old Mexican born September 30 1999 and raised in Houston Texas. She had been interested in joining the army since she was little and would play with her brother’s toy pistol while growing up. She decided to become a U.S Army soldier at the age of 18. She was Murdered April 22, 2020 inside a military base called Fort hood, located in Texas. After investigation they found that Vanessa Guillén was being sexually harassed but not by her murderer but by her supervisor.

The first time Guillén was sexually harassed it was summer 2019. A supervisor had “made an inappropriate sexual comment in Spanish” which Guillén then translated as an invitation to participate in a “threesome.” The second time a supervisor approached Guillén “while she performed personal hygiene in the wood line[.]” Afterwards, in the report, Guillén stated that “it made her uncomfortable.” She knew what was happening was wrong and no one including fellow soldiers did anything about it. 

The cause for her death had been because she was hit repeatedly with a hammer by Aaron David Robinson, a fellow army soldier. They believed that he may have been sexually harassing her but “the investigation officer found no credible evidence to conclude Spc. Robinson sexually harassed Spc. Guillén or that they had any relationship outside of their work setting,” according to the executive summary. Robinson however was found guilty of sexually harassing another soldier from April 2019 to September 2019. While the authorities were closing in on Robinson claiming he was the murderer he shot himself and died. 

There was also another suspect for the murder of Vanessa Guillén, Cecily Anne Aguilar, who was also at the time the girlfriend of Aaron David Robinson. She was arrested in July 2020 for allegedly helping Robinson dismember Guillén’s body and then burying Guillén’s remains in shallow graves along the Leon River located in Texas. Aguilar did not only help hide Guillén’s remains but lied to the authorities about where the remains were. Cecily Anne Aguilar was indicted on 11 counts for her involvement of the murder. If convicted she could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The morning of April 22, 2020, Guillén was assigned to inspect and process broken equipment in one arms room and to validate a number on a machine gun. She entered the arms room at around 10:15 and then at 10:23 she texted her supervisor the serial number of the gun. Her supervisor was the last person to be known in contact with Guillén before her disappearance. Robinson, one of the suspects of her murder, was in the second arms room. For Guillén to enter the first arms room another soldier had to open it for her. That same soldier then texted Guillén at 11:05 am to ask when she was going to return and she failed to respond. The soldier and supervisor then went to the second arms room at 12:31 pm to find it locked.

At around 8 pm her friends became alarmed for Guillén since she had been gone for so long. At 10 pm a duty officer was informed about Guillén’s disappearance. Six soldiers searched for her from 10 pm to 2:25 am the next morning. April 23, 2020 the senior leadership was involved in the investigation. The Fort Hood investigators then found a phone that could have possibly belonged to Vanessa. They created a search area and people created a page Facebook page  #FindVanessaGuillén. April 27, 2020 the U.S Army CID offered a $15,000 reward for any information on Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance. On May 7 the U.S Army CID discovered a statement that could possibly be evidence that Guillén was being sexually harassed. They however did not tell the public of the existence of the statement or who made it. June 30, 2020 they found human remains along the Leon River, 25 miles from where she was last seen. On July 3, they confirmed the remains were Vanessa Guillén’s. 

In response to the murder of Vanessa Guillén President Joe Biden signed an executive order on January 26, 2022 that makes sexual harassment an offence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and this also strengthens the military’s response to domestic violence. There were also 14 soldiers and officers who were fired because of their failure to take appropriate action towards the incident. They also contributed to the spread of sexual harassment, sexual assault, violence, and murder.

Guillén’s family fought for change and Guillén’s sister, Lupe told NPR in July 2020 “My sister was too afraid to report the harassment because no one would listen to her,” “They take sexual harassment, sexual assault, as a joke. They don’t care.” Guillén’s name has consistently been repeated for years because until her murder sexual harassment was considered a crime. It’s a milestone people believe we should have hit earlier. Overall, Vanessa Guillén influenced a major change in our society today and for our future generations.