Halliburton/KBR Gang-Rape Cover-Up Makes Waves

An ABC News story at The Blotter by Brian Ross has got lots of folks talking about the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, a Halliburton/KBR employee in Iraq. RedState, Jezebel, others have reported on the story. Ben Domenich at Red State points, disapprovingly, to The Jawa Report and Ace of Spades, both whom question the story. Domenich states:

Given all of this, the fact that two writers I respect, Ace and Rusty, have taken to already questioning this case as if it was some trumped up anti-Bushco charge, when there is absolutely no evidence to support such a theory except their own perceptions, is particularly saddening to me. This is a report from Brian Ross, not Michael Moore. It is depressing when the immediate knee-jerk reaction to a sad case like this, by those you consider allies, is to view it solely through the prism of their political views.

After pouring through the case history it appears that push for publicity about the case is about moving both the criminal and civil cases forward as opposed to making some sort of political statement.

First, this case doesn’t appear to be anything like the Duke Lacrosse rape case, despite what some would have you believe. Those who seem bent on trying to prove that there was no rape might be interested in this from Jamie’s journal (PDF):

July 25, 2005- I arrived in Greenzone, Baghdad via an armored hard car. Upon arrival I discovered that I was housed in a predominately all male barracks. I never even saw one female located in the same barracks.

July 26, 2005 US/ July 27 Baghdad- I sent several e-mails to management to ask to be moved into a container because I was experiencing cat calls even when I was walking through the barrack to get to the restroom. I received the response that I would be fine if I “go to the spa.” There was no spa in Greenzone, Baghdad . I started socializing with some Halliburton/ KBR employees, including approximately four or so firefighters. One of these men prepared me a drink and joked that there were no “rooffies” in it, and handed it to me. After having a couple sips, I passed out. I was drugged.

July 28, 2005 US/ July 29 Baghdad- I awoke the next morning in the barracks to find my naked body battered and bruised. I was still groggy from whatever had been put in my drink. I was bleeding from between my legs and my breast implants were severely disfigured. (I found out later that my attackers tore my pectoral muscles due to the brutality of the attack). One of the men who had raped me was brazen enough to be lying in the bottom bunk of my assigned bunk bed. After getting to the clinic and having a rape kit performed, and pictures taken of my bruising, I was locked in a container with no food, no way to call my parents, and was placed under armed guard by Halliburton. I did not have access to soap, toiletries, a tooth brush, or any of my belongings. I was unable to leave, therefore I was imprisoned. After some time, one of the guards allowed me to use his cell phone out of sympathy. I called my father back in Houston, who quickly contacted Congressman Ted Poe, who then initiated a Congressional Inquiry to get me out of Baghdad . At this point I was in a state of shock, severely traumatized, and was scared for my life.

…May 8, 2007- I received a letter of determination from the EEOC stating that their investigation determined in my favor stating that I was “indeed sexually assaulted by one or more of the Respondent employees and physical trauma was apparent. Respondent’s investigation was inadequate and did not effect an adequate remedy”. Due to the reason that the management didn’t investigate my housing situation, the EEOC found a violation against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So, if the journal is to be believed, the EEOC has already determined that a sexual assault took place.

The identity of one of her attackers is known. From the complaint (all documents here)

Tragically, on the evening of July 28, 2005, during her off-duty hours, Jamie was drugged (by what was believed to be Rohypnol) and brutally raped by, on information and belief, several Halliburton/KBR firefighters, including defendant, Charles Boartz, while she was in her room in the barracks. When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again. When she returned to the living area, she found Charles Boartz lying in her bottom bed. She asked him what had happened, and he confessed to having unprotected sex with her.

Jones’ lawyer make an interesting claim about her alleged assailants:

…They failed to properly investigate the history of Jamie’s assailants prior to hiring them when they should have known, or did know, of the assailants’ criminal and/or violent propensities;

Perhaps Boartz has a criminal record? Unfortunately Ross didn’t follow that angle.

Perhaps part of the problem is the nature of The Blotter’s headline and tone of the story ABC reports. For comparison if you read this FindLaw story about the case it’s substantially less conspiratorial than the ABC version. It’s a good summation of the legal pleadings, with one notable error – the alleged rape occurred in July 2005 (just days after her arrival in Iraq) and not in July 2006.

In researching the story I’ve noted (though I can’t remember where it was seen) that Jones was placed in the trailer so that she would not have to continue residing in the co-ed residence where the rape allegedly occurred. Whether that move was (or was not) at her own request is unknown. The ABC report and Jamie’s journal highlight the “captive” angle, the lawsuit does not. From the pleading:

…Immediately following her physical examination, she was placed in a trailer with a bed, a shower and a sink, but without a television, and was refused phone calls to her family despite repeated requests, which amounted to a false imprisonment;

b. She was confronted by KBR supervisors, who gave her two options:
i. Stay and “get over it”; or
ii. Return home without the “guarantee” of a job on return.

These options amounted to an unlawful threat to terminate her job for reporting her attack, and dealing with its aftermath.

Ultimately, Jamie was able to convince a guard to let her call her father on his cellular phone. Jamie’s father was then able to enlist congressional assistance to get his daughter home.

Her retelling is a bit more vivid, but the 24 hour lock down and removal from the scene of the alleged crime seems to be the least important part of the story.

Another interesting tidbit that doesn’t jibe with the ABC story is that the rape kit is not lost, nor does it appear to have been given to KBR security, or otherwise nefariously eliminated. From Jamie’s journal:

May 3, 2007- I was told by the state department that my rape kit was missing. The state department had previously ensured both of my parents that the rape kit had made it back to Washington before I even arrived back to the US . I had my mom call the state department to refresh their memories.

May 4, 2007- The rape kit was found, however the pictures of the bruises and the doctor’s notes from that day were still (and are currently) missing.

May 7, 2007- I was told to sign a release form so that the state department agent assigned to my case could try and recover the lost pictures and doctor’s notes, by giving the signed medical release form to the hospital that I went to in Baghdad and to the doctor that performed the rape kit.

…May 31, 2007- Lynn Falanga called me to tell me that the AUSA took on my case as an “intake” so that they could investigate my case diligently. In regards to the missing pictures and doctor’s notes that were taken in Baghdad Lynn Falanga and I both called the doctor that performed the rape kit. The doctor stated to both of us that “I have no idea which rape victum you are because so many young contractor girls were raped after drinking with the guys” she also stated that “I performed so many rape kits in the six months that I was stationed there that there would be no way to recall whom yours was.”

So there is at least some physical evidence of rape, and presumably DNA that may identify one or more of the unknown assailants.

The physical evidence and EEOC findings essentially leaves the argument against Jamie’s claims as a “bitch had it coming” theory. In that case one would have to posit that Jones got drunk, engaged in some sort of rough sex gang-bang, allowed someone to attempt to rip her breast implants out (or did so herself), then woke up in the morning bloody and battered and wished she hadn’t starred in a Greenzone bukakke beat-down; whereupon she made up a rape charge to deal with her embarrassment.

One would hope that conservative bloggers wouldn’t immediately adopt such a position just because the story “feels” like some sort of veiled assault on A) Bush, B) Cheney, C) the war in Iraq, D) All of the above. Is it possible that Jones’ charges are untrue? Anything is possible, but at first glance there’s very little to suggest that the claim is fabricated.

Why bloggers and commenters would rush to deny Jones’ claims out of hand or to adopt a “blame the victim” stance without at least waiting to get more information is perhaps a unwelcome legacy of the Duke case, and one the misconstrues the lessons there. While it’s hard to imagine the Duke charges making sense now, when first announced the presumption was that Krystal Gail Magnum (the stripper) was telling the truth. The victim should always be given the benefit of the doubt and let the evidence take the case where it may.

In this case a rush to pre-judge the veracity of the victim claims smacks of the either the “victim is lying” or the “bitch had it coming” defense. Ironically that’s pretty much what Halliburton is offering as one of many affirmative defenses:

Plaintiffs’ injuries were caused while Plaintiff, Jamie Jones, was intoxicated.

Plaintiff, Jamie Jones, suffered from various pre-existing conditions, which are a part of the damages being sought in this case.

Plaintiffs’ claims may be barred, in whole or in part, by a failure to mitigate or minimize damages.

Which is a nice, legalize, way of saying, “the drunken whore was asking for it”

Endnote: The entire case appears to much less some dark conspiracy by Halliburton/KBR to hide the alleged rape than a large multi-national company attempting beat down a single employee by making taking advantage of the location of the alleged attack (in a murky legal area for coverage under US laws), and then attempting to use employment contract legalities to keep the claim from seeing the light of day. Anyone who doesn’t believe a scenario like that is possible is just being willfully naive.

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