Fort Bliss soldier who died on New Year’s Eve filed sexual assault charges months ago, officials and family say

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The family of a Fort Bliss soldier who died on New Year’s Eve said she reported sexual assault charges to the U.S. Army during her time at Fort Bliss, months before she died.

As KTSM 9 News previously reported, 19-year-old Pfc. Asia Graham was found unresponsive in her barracks on New Year’s Eve and was later pronounced dead by the Fort Bliss Department of Emergency Services personnel.

According to special agents with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, “foul play is not suspected at this point in the investigation” of the death of Pfc. Asia M. Graham.

Graham was from Cherryville, North Carolina, and she arrived at Fort Bliss in December 2019 after joining the Army in July 2019. Fort Bliss was her first assigned duty station. Her family did not mention if she had any prior health issues.

Her family said she told them she was raped in December 2019, the same month she first arrived to Fort Bliss.

“She wasn’t supposed to go, she wasn’t supposed to go,” Nicole Graham, Asia’s mother, said.

Fort Bliss officials said Graham made an initial report of an alleged sexual assault on June 1, 2020. At the time, the soldier alleged a fellow soldier stationed at Fort Bliss sexually assaulted her in December 2019.  Fort Bliss said 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,” Fort Bliss officials said in an email statement.

However, the family said they still have questions as they mourn Graham’s death.

“It wasn’t her time, I don’t understand why it was supposed to be her time,” Nicole Graham said. “She just recently got outside therapy that she requested from the military and she was doing better; she was on her way up.”

But Graham’s family said they feel enough wasn’t done to help their daughter and sister.

“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.

In a statement regarding the allegations, Fort Bliss officials:

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.

LTC Allie M. Payne, Director, Division Public Affairs 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss

The Graham family said Asia was ready to fight for justice right before she died. Her brother said they would take over her battle and continue to seek justice for the assault allegations.

“She was ready to fight, that was taken away,” Koenigsfeld said. “The victory of bringing justice, for her to see justice brought to that individual that did that to her and to several other women, she didn’t get to see that.”

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command continues the investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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