Skip to main content
Lead image for this article
Military Injustice

Twice accused of sexual assault, he was let go by Army commanders. He attacked again.

A first-of-its-kind analysis reveals that soldiers in the Army are more likely to be locked up ahead of trial for drug offenses than for sexual assault under a system that gives commanders control.

By Vianna Davila, Lexi Churchill and Ren Larson, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

A portion of Christian Alvarado’s statement to investigators, with the words “She was drunk and so was I” highlighted and portions redacted by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica. Although Alvarado is identified here as a specialist, military court documents and an Army spokesperson identify his rank as a private first class.

“Soldiers accused of sexual assault are less than half as likely to be placed in pretrial confinement than those accused of offenses like drug use and distribution, disobeying an officer or burglary.”

“If something had been done sooner, he would have never gotten the chance to hurt me.”

— Lee

A justice system led by military commanders

People gather at the mural and growing memorial honoring Spc. Vanessa Guillen at Taqueria del Sol in Houston on July 5, 2020.

A dangerous person

Staff Sgt. Randall S. Hughes

Serial offenses


Do you even know what you're apologizing for?

Christian Alvarado

My aggressive behavior.


Alvarado, it was more than aggressive. You choked me until I almost passed out and left bruises around my neck.

Even when I told you to stop, you still shoved your hand down my pants.

Why didn’t you stop when I told you to?

Christian Alvarado

I choked you and fingered [you].

I don’t want to talk about it.

“How long do we need to let a serial predator continue to violate orders and harm people?”

— Franklin Rosenblatt, a law professor who previously served as a Fort Bliss judge advocate from 2010 to 2012

Different treatment

A photo of Olivia Ochoa displayed in her parents’ home. Her experience shows how aggressive Army commanders can be even in cases with more minor infractions.

“Although the Army’s case centered on drug use and possession, Ochoa was ultimately put in pretrial confinement both times for violating superior officers’ orders.”

“Once I knew I was gonna get in trouble no matter how much I tried, I completely stopped trying,” Ochoa said.


Nicole Graham’s daughter, Asia, was the soldier whom Alvarado acknowledged sexually assaulting while she was unconscious. She died at age 19 after accidentally overdosing on drugs.

“Nicole Graham said her daughter might still be alive had commanders placed Alvarado in detention earlier.”

Help The Texas Tribune and ProPublica report on the military justice system

This form requires JavaScript to complete.
Powered by CityBase Screendoor.

Wait! We need your help.


Explore related story topics

Criminal justice Investigations