A court-martial trial began this week in Texas for Army Pfc. Christian Alvarado, who is accused of raping three fellow soldiers and a civilian during a two-year period that began in December 2018, authorities said.
The 21-year-old Fort Bliss soldier has been charged with sexually assaulting three service members within one year, including the alleged December 2019 rape of Pfc. Asia Graham, who was found dead in her barracks one year later.
The two other service women were allegedly raped on May 8, 2020 and Aug. 26, 2020, according to testimony and charging documents. A woman from Mesa, Arizona, testified this week that Alvarado raped her in December 2018 and January 2019 while he was on leave and visiting his hometown.
The woman testified that she had dated Alvarado for about two years, and that he had violent outbursts which frightened her, including one in which he pulled her to her feet by her hair.
Alvarado also faces two counts of giving false statements to military investigators and one count of assault for allegedly choking a woman.
Neither Alvarado, who is currently in custody, nor his counsel, have publicly commented about the charges against him.
In oftentimes graphic testimony, service members testified this week about witnessing Alvarado brag about his sexual conquests, and in one instance, a soldier testified Alvarado invited him to have sex with a clearly intoxicated woman lying on a motel bed.
Military prosecutors opened their case on Monday, saying Alvarado “continued to have sex with Asia (Graham) while she was passed out” and “bragged in the coarsest terms possible” about it. There are also texts, a prosecutor said, that show Alvarado “choked and digitally penetrated another victim,” reported KTSM-TV, which has been covering the proceedings daily.
The defense did not give an opening statement.
The trial occurs against a backdrop of heightened scrutiny of how the military handles allegations of sexual assault and harassment from female service members. Several congressional leaders have called for independent prosecutors outside the military chain of command to handle such complaints.
None of the alleged victims except Graham have been identified by Army authorities. On Wednesday, Army officials announced Graham’s death was caused by an accidental drug overdose. There was no evidence of foul play, authorities said.
Alvarado is accused of raping Graham while she was unconscious on Dec. 30, 2019 at Fort Bliss, according to charging documents filed by Army investigators. It was her first duty station and she had only been on base for a month when she was allegedly attacked.
Her family told Inside Edition Digital she reported the incident in February 2020, but her allegations weren’t moved up the chain of command until June, when a formal complaint was entered into military records.
Fort Bliss spokeswoman Lt. Col. Allie Payne, in response to a detailed list of questions submitted by Inside Edition Digital, said there was an ongoing, separate investigation into how Graham’s complaint was initially handled.
“Fort Bliss takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, and not having record of an earlier report, the Senior Commander directed an Army Regulation 15-6 investigation into the third party report,” Payne said.
Graham’s mother, Nicole, said her daughter had been a happy-go-lucky young woman with a big heart before the alleged assault. Afterward, she descended into self-medicating with alcohol, her mom said.
“Asia was a ray of sunshine, and when that happened it was as if a dark cloud passed over her,” the mother told Inside Edition Digital in May. Nicole Graham had given her permission for Asia to enlist at age 18, to follow in the steps of her late father, who served in the Army for 23 years.
“She joined the military for me, so she could help me. I would be her dependent. She wanted to make enough money for me to have a life,” the mother said. “I just miss her.”
Nicole Graham declined comment on the ongoing court-martial proceedings.
Alvarado’s former roommate, Marzzio Plancarte, was the first witness called by the prosecution on Monday.
Plancarte told the court that he saw Alvarado and Graham drinking alcohol in a common room of their barracks during the 2019 holiday break, and that he joined them for a while. He testified that Alvarado and Graham eventually left, and that she was visibly intoxicated, slurring and leaning on a wall for support.
Afterward, Alvarado returned and said he “d*cked her down” while gesturing at his penis, Plancarte testified.
On Tuesday, a soldier testified she was raped by Alvarado on May 8, 2020, the day she met him. She invited him to a party that night, she said, and Alvarado arrived with a mutual friend, Pfc. Jovan Elliot, who brought a bottle of Hennessy.
“Everyone was drinking and taking shots,” she testified. She and Alvarado went to McDonald’s later that night, she said.
The last thing she remembered was being in the drive-thru lane, she testified. She awoke the next morning in a motel room, and didn’t know where she was, she told the court.
“You drink pretty regularly?” asked the defense attorney.
“I’d say maybe every other weekend,” she answered.
“You remember that you were romantically interested in him?” she was asked.
“I wouldn’t say I was interested,” she said. “He was just, like, a friend.”
She testified she didn’t know that sexual intercourse had occurred until Elliot, the friend who arrived at the party with Alvarado, told her.
She reported being sexually assaulted to her superiors on June 1, she testified.
Elliot was later called to the stand, where he said he had been friends with Alvarado “until the recent happenings.”
He told the court he had seen Alvarado and the accuser kissing at some point during the party. He left briefly to give some soldiers a ride home, he said, and when he returned the two had come back from McDonald’s and the accuser was visibly drunk.
Elliot went outside for a while, he testified, and when he returned, the two were gone. Elliot called Alvarado to find out where he was and the defendant said he was at a motel, Elliot said. He asked to stay in Alvarado’s room because he had missed the base’s curfew, Elliot testified.
He arrived at the motel and heard groaning through the door, he said. When Alvarado eventually opened the door, Elliot said, he had a towel around his waist. Elliot testified he could see the woman lying on a bed, covered by a sheet, with her buttocks partially exposed.
“Alvarado told me I could ‘hit it,’” Elliot testified, “and I took that to mean I could have a turn at having sex with her.”
The woman appeared extremely intoxicated, Elliot said.
“She was slurring, I could smell the alcohol with each word she said — she was definitely drunk,” he said. “I did not have sex with her because I thought it would be unorthodox.”
Alvarado took the stand on Wednesday and acknowledged giving conflicting statements to military investigators in connection with the sexual assault complaints against him.
“Did you tell different stories under oath?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
The prosecutor also asked about a log of Alvarado’s sexual partners, which military investigators testified the defendant kept and included 57 names.
“Is Asia (Graham) in your notebook?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
The court-martial proceedings are expected to wrap up in the coming days, the station said.