Morgan Robinson was an Army National Guard veteran, who died by suicide after reporting multiple sexual assaults and getting little response from the military, according to what Robinson’s mother, Debbie, told the CBS Evening News.
Robinson’s story, as told by her mother, of being sexually assaulted and gang-raped in two separate incidents while deployed and subsequently taking her own life, has gained national acclaim due to a report from Norah O’Donnell, the anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News.”
Robinson, according to her obituary, was only 21 when she joined the National Guard and was at the age of 29 when she died by suicide.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Robinson Was an Oklahoma Native
According to an obituary, Morgan Christine Robinson was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma and grew up with two sisters, Molleigh and Lucy Robinson. She graduated from Vinita High School, where she was part of the girl’s softball team, in 2008.
Robinson’s hobbies included fishing, hunting, grilling, cooking and hanging out with her dog, Ruger. When she was not cheering on the OSU Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, Robinson also enjoyed woodworking and, the obituary said, “loved to make and build things.”
At the time of her death, Robinson had a fiancée and a daughter. Her obituary noted that she enjoyed “spending time with her family and fiancée and drinking a cold beer with her friends”
Robinson joined the Army National Guard in 2010.
2. Robinson Enjoyed Serving, Her Mother Said
In an interview with CBS News, Robinson’s mother, Debbie, said that she first found out her daughter would be in the military when, at 21, Robinson sat her mother down and told her she had joined the army.
Debbie told CBS News that her daughter was doing “a job that she loved. It was for her country.”
According to Robinson’s obituary, “Morgan had a decorated career in the military and served as a sergeant, receiving multiple medals and ribbons for her achievements.”
CBS News reported that Robinson was in the National Guard for six years and was sent on her first deployment to Kuwait, a state in Western Asia, in 2016.
3. Robinson Reported Sexual Harassment & Assault to Her Superiors, Her Mother Said
Two years after that, Robinson was in Afghanistan whe Debbie said that her daughter was the victim of a gang-rape by her fellow soldiers, Oxygen reported. Because nothing came of the first investigation, Debbie told CBS News that her daughter was afraid. “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?”
She told CBS News that she was shocked by the military’s response — or lack thereof — and said she believes the military is incapable of policing themselves. “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?” she asked. “Are they just going to sit back and, ‘It’s okay’? They would want justice also.”
According to CBS News, the officer who assaulted her in Kuwait was given a written reprimand eight months after Robinson died by suicide.
4. Robinson’s Mother Said Her Daughter’s Experiences in the Military Resulted In Her Suicide
At first, Debbie said she was given a heavily redacted AR 15-6 investigation into Robinson’s death, which she found angering and frustrating. “I just didn’t understand how they could actually stand there and look me in the eyes, and hand that to me,” she told CBS News.
An unredacted version of the report said, “Sergeant Robinson suffered sexual, physical, and psychological trauma while deployed. The sequela of this trauma was a factor in her death.” The Army declined to give CBS News an interview, but a policy advisor on the military’s sexual assault program, Dr. Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, told the media outlet, “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.”
In Robinson’s obituary, the family said, “It is her big bright smile and contagious laugh that her friends and family will miss most.”
Debbie told CBS News that she struggles with feelings of guilt. “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,” Debbie said. “That’s what you’re there for, is to protect your kids. And I couldn’t protect her.”
However, she said that she ultimately blames her daughter’s suicide on the military for “The way they did not handle what happened.”
5. Robinson’s Case Has Brought Even More Attention to a Bill Aimed at Improving the Military’s Response to Sexual Assault
Vanessa Guillen was a U.S. Army Specialist stationed at Texas‘ Fort Hood who went missing on April 22, 2020. Specialist Aaron Robinson, who was a suspect in her killing, fatally shot himself as police were approaching to arrest him. You can read more about her case here.
The bill would do the following:
- Make sexual harassment a crime in the military
- Take the decision to prosecute sexual assault and harassment cases out of the military chain of command
- Require that an independent prosecutor to assess whether a case should move forward
- Allow victims to file claims for compensation with the Department of Defense
- Assign the U.S. Government Accountability Office the power to conduct an external review of the military’s response to sexual harassment and investigating missing people
On a Change.org petition to sign the bill into law, more than 86,000 people have signed.