Pfc. Asia Graham, 19, was found unresponsive in her barracks room on New Year’s Eve. The Army’s investigation into her death is now the second open investigation involving Graham -- the one regarding her alleged sexual assault was still ongoing when she died.
Graham made an initial report of an alleged sexual assault on June 1, 2020, but the incident had occurred six months prior. Graham alleged that a fellow Pfc. stationed at Fort Bliss sexually assaulted her in December of 2019, the month she arrived at the installation from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Fort Bliss followed proper protocols when the assault was reported, according to public affairs statements. A Military Protective Order, enforceable by both civilian and military law enforcement, was put in place. Graham’s command took measures to ensure she and the accused did not reside in the same buildings or work in the same areas “to allow for the investigation to go unimpeded.”
Charges were preferred against the alleged offender on October 22, 2020, and adjudication was ongoing. But Graham’s family believes the Army did not do enough fast enough, and the case had impacted Graham’s mental health and was a factor in her death.
“She just recently got outside therapy that she requested from the military and she was doing better. She was on her way up,” Graham’s mother, Nicole, told KTSM.
“It’s just lack of leadership and instead of treating someone like a problem, you got to find that solution,” Graham’s older brother, Andrew Koenigsfeld, said.
Army CID agents continuing the investigation into Graham’s death “do not suspect foul play,” according to a statement released Jan. 4. The manner of death is still pending the outcome of the autopsy.
As for Graham’s alleged assaulter, the soldier now awaits a general court-martial and a trial. According to Fort Bliss Public Affairs, this most recent development in Graham’s case would have occurred before her death had holiday leave schedules not disrupted the case’s progress.
The death comes as the military continues to recoup after it was harshly reviewed following the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen by a fellow soldier at another installation in Texas. The results of a review of Fort Hood mandated by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy in August deemed sexual harassment and assault prevention at the installation as a failure.
Women at Fort Hood were forced to “slip into survival mode, vulnerable and preyed upon, but fearful to report and be ostracized and re-victimized,” the report reads. Leadership, as Koenigsfeld suggested, was found to be largely to blame for the lack of confidence in the system and the ineffectiveness of the SHARP program at Fort Hood.
Additionally, the review found that investigating sexual assault and harassment cases at the installation took so long, the soldiers involved often never even saw adjudication, as Graham never saw with her case.
The trial date for Graham’s alleged assaulter has not yet been set.
Another female soldier at Fort Bliss was found dead the day after Graham. Staff Sgt. Jessica Mitchell, 30, died after being shot in her car on a freeway on New Year's Day. The fatal shooting is being investigated by both the San Antonio Police Department and Army CID.