US: Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR

Publisher Name: 
ABC News

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR
coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are
covering up the incident.




Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple
men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard
in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left
Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.




"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position
here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she
was told.




In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its
then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container
for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed
security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.




"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC
News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I
was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not
believe what had happened."




Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a
cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.




"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in
this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father
called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.




"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told
ABCNews.com, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an
American citizen" -- from her American employer.




Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly
dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp,
where they rescued her from the container.




According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers
who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both
physically and emotionally."




Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she
had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the
rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security
officers.




A spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic
Security told ABCNews.com he could not comment on the matter.




Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal
charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal
agency was investigating the case.




Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a
judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left
contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.




"It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin
Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say
that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity
for justice."




Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will
give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.




Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.




Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of
the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.




"There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators
haven't been prosecuted," Poe told ABC News. "But I think it
is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and
the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens
overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public,
that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that
people are prosecuted."




Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option,
according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that
Jones is trying now. But Jones' former employer doesn't want this case
to see the inside of a civil courtroom.



KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration,
instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract
requires it.




In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the
proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a
judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case.
In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy
Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of
arbitration proceedings brought against it.




In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.




"Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom," said Rep.
Poe. "That's why we have courts in the United States."




In her lawsuit, Jones' lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton
created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at the company
barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.




"I think that men who are there believe that they live without
laws," said Kelly. "The last thing she should have expected
was for her own people to turn on her."




Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it "is
improperly named" in the suit.




In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its
own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they
were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal
investigations."




"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top
priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this
regard is unwavering."




Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the
Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were
raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government
contractors or other corporations.




"I want other women to know that it's not their fault," said
Jones. "They can go against corporations that have treated them
this way." Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will
go to her foundation.




"There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for
change," she said. "I'd like to be that voice."

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 15 Halliburton