World (AP)

British army concludes that 19-year-old soldier took her own life after relentless sexual harassment | AP News

British army concludes that 19-year-old soldier took her own life after relentless sexual harassment | AP News

LONDON (AP) — A 19-year-old British soldier is believed to have taken her own life after relentless sexual harassment by her immediate superior that including sending thousands of messages in the space of two months, according to the findings from an army investigation published Wednesday.

The investigation concluded that Royal Artillery Gunner Jaysley Beck killed herself at an army camp in the south of England in December 2021 following “an intense period of unwelcome behavior” and that it is “almost certain this was a causal factor” in her death.

A report on the findings said that in October 2021, Beck received more than 1,000 WhatsApp messages and voicemails from her superior at Larkhill Camp, which is in the middle of Salisbury Plain and around 86 miles (138 kms) southwest of London. The next month, the number increased to more than 3,500.

“Whilst this behavior ended the week before her death, it appears that it continued to affect her and had taken a significant toll on her mental resilience and well-being,” according to the report, which did not name the superior who sent the messages.

The report said Beck had no diagnosed mental health conditions and had not sought welfare support from anyone in the army, but the investigators added that family issues, including a bereavement, played a part, a finding that Beck’s family rejected..

“It’s easy for people to say, ‘Why don’t you block him? You’ve got to have respect for those above you,’ and Jaysley did have respect, it wasn’t as straightforward as you can block your boss,” Beck’s mother, Leighann McCready, said.

“It was very apparent how it emotionally affected her,” she added.

The circumstances surrounding the soldier’s death, including the cause, are still to be determined by the coroner.

Emma Norton, the family’s lawyer from the Centre for Military Justice, said it is “hugely significant” that the army admitted that sexual harassment was a causative factor in Beck’s death.

“If there is one silver lining in this awful situation, it is the fact that the army has accepted that at this relatively early stage,” Norton said. “I don’t think that would have happened a few years ago.

A spokesperson for the army said its “thoughts and sympathies” were with Beck’s family and friends.