The devastated mom said that her daughter was doing a job, "a job that she loved. It was for her country. And to think that that's what took her life. That's what broke her. They wanted her body. And they took her soul."
Morgan Robinson's dream of serving in the military began at a young age. She nurtured the dream for years until one day she informed her mom that she was ready to take the leap. "When she turned 21, she said, 'Mom, I gotta talk to ya.' And she told me then that she had joined," Morgan's mom, Debbie Robinson, told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell. While she was aware of the risk inherent to the military profession, neither Morgan nor her family foresaw the cruelty and injustice she would be subjected to while on duty.
Morgan Robinson died by suicide after she was allegedly sexually assaulted a second time while serving in the military. https://t.co/dKLYWpvqev— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) November 18, 2020
Morgan had been in the Army National Guard for six years when in 2016, she was sent on her first deployment to Kuwait. "When she was in Kuwait, she was sexually assaulted and continually harassed by one of her superiors," said Robinson. According to the heartbroken mother, although Morgan reported the assault to concerned officials, she didn't receive any response. "She got nothing," she said. While on that same deployment, Morgan was sent to serve in Afghanistan where she was sexually assaulted again by fellow soldiers. Despite allegedly being gang-raped by multiple soldiers, she was afraid to report what happened in Afghanistan, said Robinson.
The horror that led to Morgan Robinson’s suicide began two years earlier, when one of her supervisors allegedly sexually assaulted her multiple times while they were stationed in Kuwait#MorganRobinson #USArmy #Suicides #Rape https://t.co/JCmdSTGXg0— Realtalktimenews (@Realtalktimenow) November 18, 2020
"She was very scared," she said. "Because they threatened her, number one. And number two, she knew that it wouldn't go anywhere. Nothing happened in Kuwait with the sexual assault and the harassment, so why would they do something, you know, in Afghanistan?" Sexual harassment and assault in the military have been at the forefront of discussions for years. The military's efforts to address the problem and make it easier and safer for victims to report cases has made it evident that Morgan is not an isolated case.
"The DoD also notes that sexual assault remains 'an underreported crime among both the civilian and military populations,' therefore, the number of service members who have been sexually assaulted is likely higher than the reports."https://t.co/1NN2cRf6ux— SafeHorizon (@SafeHorizon) November 11, 2020
According to ABC News, 7,825 reports of sexual assault in all branches of the military were made in the fiscal year of 2019. This extremely worrying number followed a dire warning from then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018 when he said that there was zero tolerance for sexual assault. "While battlefield casualties are a reality of war, we will accept no casualties due to sexual assault in our military family," he said at the time. However, Mattis' proclamation was too little too late for Morgan, who died by suicide four months after he made the promise.
Over the past year and a half, @NorahODonnell spoke with dozens of sexual assault survivors from all branches of the U.S. military who say their allegations were brushed aside or met with retaliation.— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 19, 2020
Tonight, the U.S. Army is responding to @CBSNews' investigation. pic.twitter.com/gPdy6ZSWWc
"You pray that it — that's not how it's going to end up," said Ms. Robinson. "It wasn't a matter of 'if.' It was a matter of 'when.'" Although the Army launched an investigation into Morgan's death, the copy of the AR 15-6 investigation they handed the grieving mother was heavily redacted. "I just didn't understand how they could actually stand there and look me in the eyes, and hand that to me," she said. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth P. Van Winkle — a principal policy advisor to the military's sexual assault program — maintained that the Pentagon was committed to holding itself accountable.
Norah O’Donnell Investigates Military Sexual Assault in Four-Part CBS News Series https://t.co/RXPKZG0hD4— Variety (@Variety) November 17, 2020
"The department remains committed to our goals of ending sexual assault in the military, providing the highest quality response to service members, and holding offenders appropriately accountable," she said at the time. Her words completely contradicted what Ms. Robinson found in the unredacted pages of the report into Morgan's death which said: "Sergeant Robinson suffered sexual, physical, and psychological trauma while deployed. The sequela of this trauma was a factor in her death." Eight months after Morgan's death, her command issued a written reprimand to the officer who assaulted her in Kuwait.
BREAKING: The Secretary of the Army is responding to @CBSNews’ investigation into sexual assault in the military.— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 18, 2020
“This topic has captivated the attention of America and our Army leaders and it is abundantly clear -- we must do better,” Sec. Ryan D. McCarthy says.
More tonight. https://t.co/D4Gkpw0NeM
When asked what led to her daughter's death, Ms. Robinson said: "The military. The way they did not handle what happened. They can't police their self. How can you investigate yourself? You can't. If I was a commanding officer, and if I had kids, what would you think if that happened to your daughter or your son? What would you want to happen to them? Are they just going to sit back and, 'It's okay'? They would want justice also. Everything just plays over and over and over in your head, thinking, 'Did I miss something? Could I have done something?' You know, you're a mom. That's what you're there for, is to protect your kids. And I couldn't protect her." The devastated mom added that she wants people to know that her daughter was doing a job, "a job that she loved. It was for her country. And to think that that's what took her life. That's what broke her. They wanted her body. And they took her soul."