3:09 PM PDT, June 21, 2021
Pfc. Christian Alvarado has been convicted of raping fellow soldier Asia Graham and another female service member. The military judge in his Fort Bliss court-martial proceedings sentenced him to more than 18 years in prison.
Graham, 19, who was also a private first class, died from an accidental drug overdose one year after being attacked by Alvarado in 2019 while she was unconscious in a base barracks. The other woman sexually assaulted by Alvarado has not been named.
Alvarado, 21, was convicted Friday on one count of lying to military investigators, two counts of rape and one charge of aggravated assault for choking a third woman. He was sentenced to 18 years and three months behind bars and will be dishonorably discharged, Fort Bliss authorities said.
The defendant had initially been charged with assaulting five women over a two-year period beginning in 2018. One accuser declined to testify at his court-martial and the charges involving her alleged assault were dropped. Alvarado was acquitted on charges of sexually assaulting two other women, both civilians.
“He has lied and manipulated women so long he thinks he can convince anyone,” the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Shanna Cronin, said during closing arguments, reported KTEP-TV.
Graham’s family described their loss in impact statements to the court.
“I lost my best friend, my only daughter,” said Nicole Graham, Asia’s mother, who attended the trial in El Paso, Texas.
“The recruiter who came to the house told me Asia would be protected. She would be part of a family. I got my daughter back in a box with a flag,” the mom said.
Anthony Graham moved to El Paso to support his sister after she was sexually assaulted. “I watched my happy sister turn into a trapped soul in darkness,” he said.
Last week’s military trial included often graphic testimony. Service members told the court that Alvarado bragged 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.
The trial occurred against a backdrop of heightened scrutiny about 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.
Alvarado was convicted of raping Graham while she was unconscious on Dec. 30, 2019 at Fort Bliss. It was her first duty station and she had only been on base for a month when she was 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.