A U.S. Army Fort Hood staff sergeant is fighting for her future and that of her four youngest children who face being ripped from their home if their mother is imprisoned for a crime she says she didn’t commit.

Marquis

Staff Sgt. Sandy Marquis, 39, smiles at her youngest daughter as she swings at Purser Family Park playground on July 16. Marquis is fighting Fort Hood criminal allegations that she impeded an investigation in 2018. Her trial date is scheduled for November.

Staff Sgt. Sandy Marquis, 39, a logistician in the 1st Calvary Division Sustainment Brigade, said she used to be proud to wear her Army uniform, that she wanted her children to follow in her footsteps, but now, after years at Fort Hood, Marquis’ view on the military has changed.

“I have no trust of anyone in this uniform,” said Marquis, who joined the Army 16 years ago. “Out here, on Fort Hood, there’s no such thing as a good leader. The only person who has been genuine is my first sergeant. She’s the only one who asked me, “Hey, what happened?”

This isn’t how Marquis always felt about the Army, she said. As a child, Marquis’ family immigrated to the United States, to New York City, from St. Lucia.

“It was always my long-lost dream to join the military,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of something.”

Marquis said the Army rescued her during one of the toughest times of her life.

“A lot of people don’t know the background about me,” she said. “I was homeless with my two boys at 21. I joined the military out of a homeless shelter because my apartment burned down. When I got in (the Army), that was my escape from New York, because I didn’t have anything.”

Retelling her escape from homelessness brought tears to her eyes.

“I could write 10 books,” she said.

THE CASE

Now, Marquis faces one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of child endangerment, of which, she says Fort Hood Army prosecutors are seeking the maximum penalty: nine years in prison.

DOD documents, provided by Marquis, show Lt. Col. Seana Jardin filed charges against Marquis on March 8, 2021, for events that allegedly took place in 2018: two counts of child endangerment and one count of attempting “to impede an investigation.”

Marquis says she is being punished for an old Child Protective Services case in North Carolina which was dismissed years ago.

“One of the things they’re trying to do is push the max (sentence) on a single mom, and dishonorable discharge, with a tampered (CPS) investigation that was proven that it was tampered with,” she said.

Marquis’ case has caught the attention of Al Sharpton’s non-profit civil rights organization, the National Action Network, in New York.

“This is what I want my story to bring light to — there is still corruption on Fort Hood,” she said.

NORTH CAROLINA

Marquis’ situation started in 2017 when she was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

That’s where her oldest son, Devante Marquis, then 16 years old, told North Carolina police, after he was picked up as a runaway, that his younger brother, Kamara Iseah Marquis, had assaulted one of his younger sisters.

“When I was 16, I was all over the place,” Devante, 20, said Friday. “Obviously, I’ve changed. I had to do a lot of maturing. I was going through a lot of emotional stuff.”

Devante said he wished he could take back the lie he told police as a teenager.

“Honestly, every time I think about that whole situation, I just wish I had never said anything like that,” he said. “My mom may do time for something that has nothing to do with this. Every day I think about that and I wish I was the one doing the time.”

At the time of the North Carolina incident, Sandy Marquis’ two oldest sons were sent to live with their grandmother in New York. The case was dismissed within two weeks of its filing, when North Carolina CPS found Marquis’ son’s claim to be unfounded.

A letter from the Cumberland County Department of Social Services to Sandy Marquis dated May 26, 2017, says the case was closed, stating “protective services are no longer needed.”

Within the same year, Marquis was reassigned to Fort Hood and looking forward to leaving the past behind her. Marquis moved her family, minus the two oldest boys, to Fort Hood in January 2018. Then, the old CPS case reemerged in Texas.

TEXAS

In October 2018, Marquis reported sexual misconduct of a fellow staff sergeant to SHARP, Fort Hood's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program. The man was sending Marquis lewd text messages, she says, taking inappropriate photos of female soldiers, and circulating the photos around base.

“I felt objectified by the things he said he would like to do to me,” she said.

The SHARP case went nowhere, the staff sergeant was moved to another brigade, but Marquis says this is when she began to face retaliatory measures at Fort Hood.

Marquis

Staff Sgt. Sandy Marquis, 39,stands outside Fort Hood's visitor center Friday morning. Marquis is fighting Fort Hood criminal allegations that she impeded an investigation in 2018. Her trial date is scheduled for August 31.

“The way I’ve been treated, I was shunned,” she said. “You don’t shun someone. The worst thing to do to an individual that’s going through a crisis is for you to isolate them and throw them in a corner. This is the quickest way to send someone to commit suicide.”

The next month, a CPS case was opened on Marquis in Texas, allegedly due to the fact that Marquis’ second oldest son, Kamara Iseah Marquis, who was falsely accused in the North Carolina CPS case, moved in with his mother at her Texas home in August 2018. He now lives in New York with his oldest brother and grandmother.

On Nov, 8, 2018, Marquis’ son, Kamara Iseah, then 15, said he noticed someone following him home after Harker Heights High School football practice. Marquis said it ended up being a CPS worker who said she was there because of the 2017 North Carolina CPS case. Marquis said she explained to the woman that the case was closed in North Carolina.

“The (CPS) worker explained to me that she was going to have a sit down on Nov, 9, 2018 with us, which never happened,” Marquis said. “My children were removed from my care the next day.”

A CPS family service plan document provided by Marquis claims that one of Marquis’ daughters allegedly told the CPS worker that all the children slept together in the same room — a claim that Marquis knows to be untrue because her children had their own rooms in her former two-story brick, five-bedroom, three-bath, house in Harker Heights.

Marquis

Staff Sgt. Sandy Marquis, 39, stands outside her former five-bedroom home on Quapaw Drive in Harker Heights. Marquis is fighting Fort Hood criminal allegations that she impeded an investigation in 2018. Her trial date is scheduled for August 31.

“It was like a mansion,” Marquis said.

Marquis, then pregnant with a daughter she now refers to as her “angel baby,” said she was completely distraught when CPS took her three youngest children — two daughters and a son, all under the age of 6 at the time.

“I was going home to an empty house, hearing my kids calling my name, laying on a couch, crying, and not eating,” she said.

Marquis said she felt like giving up at that time, but her unborn child saved her.

“When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, and I was still not accepting I was pregnant, I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, you need to fight, stop giving up, because that’s not you,’" she said. "I got up, and I started fighting CPS like it was no tomorrow.”

On Nov. 9, 2018, after being forced to turn over her 2-year-old son to CPS, Marquis said she could still hear him calling her name at her house, so she booked a hotel.

“There was a void, and I was so worried, so I decided to go to a hotel with my only remaining son who was left with me.”

She says she informed her chain of command, her first sergeant, and her mentor that she was going to a hotel.

Then, on the evening of Nov. 10, 2018, Marquis said she was stopped by a Harker Heights police officer who initially said he had a warrant out for her arrest, but then changed his story to say he was looking for Marquis’ 15-year-old son, Kamara.

Marquis said she took police to her son, who was then arrested, and later released after the CPS charges against him were found to be untrue.

The ramifications of that day in November still haunt Marquis, almost three years later, as U.S. Army prosecutors allege Marquis knew her son was wanted and that she knowingly “impeded” an investigation, something Marquis vehemently denies, and a charge she says hinges on a statement from a coworker who later confessed to five higher-up Fort Hood officials was a lie. That coworker is no longer stationed at Fort Hood.

It took nine months for Marquis to get her children back, but the stint in the state’s foster care system caused lasting mental scars for her youngest children, who still vocalize concerns that the state will one day take them away from their mother again.

Marquis

Staff Sgt. Sandy Marquis, 39, talks to her youngest daughter at Purser Family Park playground Friday afternoon. Marquis is fighting Fort Hood criminal allegations that she impeded an investigation in 2018. Her trial date is scheduled for August 31.

Following the reemergence of the old CPS case in 2018, Marquis said she was “stripped of her duties,” “sent back to company,” and fired from her job as a Master Fitness Trainer on her day off.

Marquis, who is pursing a master degree in criminal justice, said “It’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty; it’s not guilty until proven innocent.”

FORT HOOD

Marquis’ Army-appointed lawyer Capt. Jestyne Martin, said she couldn’t speak about the case to the media.

When asked for a comment about Marquis’ case, Maj. Terez Little, public affairs officer of the 1st Calvary Division, issued the following statement.

“On March 8, 2021, Staff Sgt. Marquis was charged with two specifications (counts) of child endangerment and one specification (count) of obstruction of justice; these charges are totally unrelated to sexual harassment (SHARP) claims filed in 2018,” Little said. “Her next court date is scheduled for August 6, 2021. Her trial date is set for August 31, 2021. No one involved in United States v. Staff Sgt. Marquis has been the subject of a SHARP complaint made by Staff Sgt. Marquis. This case involves an ongoing criminal prosecution and we cannot release specific details regarding the case. However, all soldiers facing court-martial are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”

Little reiterated the Army’s position on sexual harassment.

“The Army takes all allegations of sexual harassment seriously,” Little said. “The 1st Cavalry Division continues to put People First in everything we do — we strive for a culture where all Soldiers are treated with dignity and respect.”

AUGUST

Marquis said she is remaining level headed as she prepares for her August court date.

“The one thing the military can’t take away from me is my athleticism,” Marquis said. “That’s what keeps me level-headed — running and working out.”

Marquis’ two oldest sons said they’re “optimistic” and that they look forward to when “this is all over.”

“All of it is unnecessary,” Kamara Iseah Marquis, 17, said Saturday. “Things they’re saying happened, never happened. I hope her case gets dismissed, because it’s unnecessary. They’re going to find nothing, like they found in the other two cases. She’s one of the best moms out there.”

ldodd@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(7) comments

Mitch405

I too am retired 22 years US Army law enforcement fight this with all your heart, seek personal counseling, seek civilian attorney, keep your circle of support tight. I wish success in your case and do not leave the military volunteerly without honorable discharge/Retirement. Every unit is different remember your training stay physical fit, mentally strong, family oriented, goal focused, document everything, seek medical services for physical injuries/mental stress before retirement or leaving the military.

I read some good comments and devotion to the military, the chain of command, leaders responsible to soldiers in their care. Don't forget your leaders care for you most times you got to care for yourself especially now, during legal battles for your career and family life. Stay Family strong, your duty is to you and them at this moment in time then the military.

Jonathan254

I am retired military of 20 years and I am very well experienced with how the military works. There is a reason military officials do not comment on investigations and this article proves that reason. I feel very deeply for what the SSG has gone through just as well as anyone who has had to go through other situations; however, we are not privileged to the facts of both sides to determine what's fair or unfair. The military does take the care and welfare of its members very serious as well as sexual assault. I have witnessed this for 20 years. I am not saying the military is perfect, or that every unit has a a perfect system, or that every military member is a great person who makes all the right decisions. I am saying that there is not a culture of not caring, covering up, or out to get you. Before I was ever responsible for other Solider I was evaluated on my care for the welfare and well-being. Whether on or off duty om the day an NCO or officer takes they are evaluated daily on the welfare and well-being of their Soldiers and their families despite being on or off duty. Not only are leaders evaluated daily by their supervisors in this aspect, they are also sat down quarterly for written evaluations specifically on caring for their Soldier's and their families health and well-being. Not only are the sat down quarterly for this, they are sat down annually for a written evaluation of the care and well-being of their Soldiers and their families. These evaluations are then sent up to at least one more higher supervisor for review before the evaluation is official. Thus is what all leaders in the military go though from day one of being a leader until the day you leave. In addition, every Soldiers and Supervisor goes through in depth quarterly training on how to report sexual assault to military or civilian personnel. That is not a system or culture of not caring or covering up. The civilian population is misinformed and rushing to judgement without facts. We may find that the military made a mistake or had a wrong understanding of facts, but a conspiracy to do Soldiers wrong will be far from what actually happens no matter the outcome. I went through legal issues in the military myself for a few years and I don't blame them because they have a job to do and they were just doing it like. There are at least two sides to every story, have patience for all sides before judgment.

NgoPham77

My husband and 8 soldiers died on fort hood. Ft good covered it up

NgoPham77

@EssieHillard Hi mam, my name is Ngo Thi Pham. My husband was SSG Colon. I am so sorry for your loss. Please reached out to me. My email is Ngo.thipham@yahoo.com

Amlane

I know Vanessa Gullièn’s family attorney told the President that Vanessa didn’t report sexual harassment/abuse because she didn’t “want to have to clean toilets” but that’s not true.

Soldiers, especially Fort Hood soldiers are afraid of reporting wrongdoing because of THIS.

Staff SGT Marquiss is a prime example of RETALIATION.

Her son made a claim that by his own admission was “a lie” YEARS ago and the case was dismissed.

Why the heck is the army in on it YEARS later? Well, that’s pretty clear.

It’s sounds like “conspiracy theory” nonsense but it’s not.

Like Staff SGT Marquiss I LOVED the military until I needed help. Where was I? Texas of course.

Soldiers are nothing but a tool for the military. Once we are no longer of service to them, that’s our problem.

The word that came to mind reading this article is “SUICIDE” and Ms Marquis said it.

A dead soldier doesn’t cost the army money. Wonder why there is no help for soldiers injured in the line of duty, especially if that injury is sexual?

Because most of us receive benefits for our line of duty injury.

I cost the military couple thousand a month, if I die they save money and the same is true for thousands of other soldiers.

Ms Marquis is facing a dishonorable which means she’s not eligible for benefits regarding the sexual abuse she suffered.

She’s being punished and it’s retaliation without a doubt. Instead of just finding a way to discharge her they are making sure they won’t have to pay her.

Vanessa wasn’t scared of “cleaning toilets”, when you’re being sexually abused you know if you tell your career is over at the LEAST.

This is so wrong and this soldier needs to be left alone and sent to a different duty station.

The army, Fort Hood specifically is going to drive her to suicide or prison if she doesn’t get some help.

I would love to know where the Commander in Chief is.

We know he’s not about to set foot in Texas but FH need a team of outside investigators sent by the Commander in Chief to remove every corrupt troop at FH.

I HOPE Ms Marquis contacts a legitimate organization like American Legion, DAV or AMVETS and ask for a service officer to get her the appropriate resources.

Her Congresswoman, Ms Sylvia Garcia or even Senator Cruz’s office is a good place to start asking for her.

Vanessa Gullien’s Bill has been passed in the state of Texas.

The family of Elder Fernandez, the soldier that reported sexual abuse and “disappeared” after being released from the hospital has an attorney.

His family doesn’t believe he “walked” 30 miles before ending his life.

If Staff SGT Marquis sees this I hope you reach out to the Fernandez family attorney or a local service officer.

She may even want to contact Gullièn family attorney.

Staff SGT, suicide isn’t an option, please just take it off the table. That’s the best thing to do, it’s not an option.

Keep fighting and telling your story!

EssieHilliard49

Just want to give you support and prayers. My daughter, PVT2 Tysheena L. James, was ine of the 9 soilders who died in Fort Hood in June 2016. Sge too was apart of the 1st Calvery Division...That incident is still a subject of conversation. As her mother and a mother, loosing your children no matter the way is devastating. I too have issues with the higher ups at Firt Hood because things was not handled respectfully. Fort Hood as a whole needs to be thoroughly investigated through a seperate entity. I still love the Armed services but when there is a clear abuse of power it needs to be dealt with.

ReneeRiley

When is the nonsense at Ft, Hood going to STOP!!! #NAACP

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