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A civil rights group wants an investigation into the death of a female soldier in Texas

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

The nation's largest Latino civil rights organization is calling for an outside investigation into the death of a 21-year-old female soldier at Fort Hood in Texas. The Army says there are no signs of foul play surrounding the woman's death. Texas Public Radio's Jerry Clayton has more from San Antonio.

JERRY CLAYTON, BYLINE: Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz was found dead last Monday. Family members told Telemundo News her death appeared to be a suicide. They said she had been the target of unwanted sexual advances by a superior at Fort Hood. AnaLuisa Tapia of the League of United Latin American Citizens spoke at a news conference on Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANALUISA TAPIA: The league is equally concerned over the reports from her family that their daughter was the target of repeated sexual harassment. The league demands an immediate, full and transparent investigation into these claims. This investigation needs to start now. It must be by an outside authority.

CLAYTON: Earlier in the day, Fort Hood's senior commander, General Sean Bernabe, addressed reporters.

SEAN BERNABE: At this point in the investigation, there are no indications of foul play. CID is not ruling anything out, and we'll investigate the circumstances leading up to Ana's death fully and completely.

CLAYTON: The case of Private Basaldua Ruiz has some parallels with the 2020 death of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen. Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood after telling family she was being sexually harassed. Her body was found 2 1/2 months later in a rural area 30 miles from the post. The soldier suspected in her killing took his own life shortly afterward. An independent review panel later found Fort Hood to be a permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment and pointed out serious structural flaws in the Army's prevention program. The Guillen case triggered a national conversation about sexual violence in the military and legislation to change how it is handled.

For NPR News, I'm Jerry Clayton in San Antonio.

RASCOE: And for anyone experiencing thoughts of self-harm, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number is 988. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jerry Clayton

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