Lawsuit: Rape coverup by Halliburton/KBR

A woman says the company tried to keep her quiet after co-workers gang-raped her.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published December 10, 2007 11:25PM (EST)

Jamie Leigh Jones, a 22-year-old Houston woman, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that she was raped by co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. The details are ugly: Her lawsuit says she was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally." Afterward, Jones says the company threatened that if she returned to the United States for medical care, she would lose her job. She says she was then held in a shipping container against her will with armed guards outside for at least 24 hours.

ABC News reports that while being held in the container, Jones managed to persuade one of her guards to let her call her family on a cellphone. She told them, "I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave." Her father called Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, who then immediately contacted the State Department. Eventually, workers from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad arrived to release her. At one point after the alleged attack -- it's unclear exactly when from the ABC report -- Jones says the Army conducted a medical screening that showed that she had been raped vaginally and anally. But the evidence went missing, Jones says, after being turned over to KBR, then a subsidiary of Halliburton.

This was more than two years ago, yet no criminal charges have been filed by the Justice Department, and ABC News reports that no federal agencies are investigating the case. Jones and her lawyer feel their best alternative is to try the case in civil court. But KBR is angling for the case to be heard in private arbitration (that is, without a judge, jury or public record of the hearing).

There's truly nothing for us to say here, beyond the obvious, and Poe does that beautifully: "Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom. That's why we have courts in the United States."

Tracy Clark-Flory

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