Nuclear scandal

A Los Alamos scientist claims her boss kept her as a sex slave; he says she was a willing participant.

Published March 12, 2001 8:32PM (EST)

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is best known as birthplace of the atomic bomb, and since that time the facility has kept busy developing and refining our idea of "national security." In the shadow of Cold War paranoia, amid ghosts of America's nuclear power, another uneasiness has recently erupted -- an internal employee sex scandal that is scheduled for trial soon.

The case, the Albuquerque Journal reports, centers around former lab technician Jiyan An and her supervisor, Robert Cary, who still is employed at Los Alamos. The two apparently began a sexual liaison while working together, but their versions of the affair from then on are drastically different.

Cary testified in a deposition that he had sex with his assistant for the first time in the summer of 1997 on Pajarito Mountain, a ski resort a few miles from the laboratory. Cary insisted that An never resisted having sex with him, and even made booty calls when her husband was out of town. He claimed they often had sex at her apartment, as her young daughter slept in the next room. The affair, in his eyes, grew more intense.

"Sometime in October 1997, Jiyan told me she wanted to leave her husband for me," testified Cary. "She told me she would give up everything for me."

Cary claimed that his wife got pregnant a few months later, after which he attempted to break off the affair, but An wouldn't let him. She allegedly called his wife "on an almost daily basis." Cary said he was afraid that An's husband, who also worked at the laboratory, might get violent on the job.

That's Cary's side of the story. According to An, he raped her in June 1997 in a research lab, and because she was from a patriarchal Chinese household and felt incredible shame, as well as fear that she might lose her job and family if discovered, she kept the affair going, having frequent sex with Cary in his car, and engaging in foreplay at the lab.

"He said he want me to become his mistress, become queen of his lab, assure my good job, to caress me, to do something to my body in exchange," An testified.

An's husband eventually surprised the two at An's apartment, and complained to the employee relations office at the Los Alamos lab. Officials transferred An to another supervisor. An also asserted that her husband, enraged that she was having an affair, began hitting her to the point where she ended up in a hospital. She admitted that she attempted suicide on two occasions.

An and her husband eventually moved away to Virginia. She did not press criminal charges against Cary or her husband, but she did file a lawsuit against Cary, his supervisors, the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California, alleging that Cary raped her at work, and kept her as his "sex toy" for months. The charges range from violation of her civil rights to assault and battery. The defendants' request for dismissal of the case is still pending, according to newspaper accounts.

Representatives for Los Alamos refuse to comment, as does an attorney for An and her husband. Trial is tentatively scheduled for May.

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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