Skip to comments."Halliburton", gang rape, and fear of arbitration: the Jamie Leigh Jones case
Posted on 12/12/2007 11:48:45 AM PST by enough_idiocy
"Halliburton", gang rape, and fear of arbitration: the Jamie Leigh Jones case In February 2006, Jamie Leigh Jones filed an arbitration complaint, complaining that, for her administrative assistant job with KBR in Iraq, she was placed in an all-male dorm for living arrangements, and a co-worker sexually assaulted her. (KBR says the co-worker claimed the sex was consensual, though Jones claims physical injuries, such as burst breast implants and torn pectoral muscles, that are plainly not consistent with consensual sex. The EEOC's Letter of Determination credited the allegation of sexual assault.)
Fifteen months later, after extensive discovery in the arbitration, Jones, who lives in Houston, and whose lawyer is based in Houston, and who worked for KBR in Houston, sued KBR and a bunch of other entities (including Halliburton, for whom she never worked, and the United States), in federal court in Beaumont, Texas. The claims were suddenly of much more outrageous conduct: the original allegation of a single he-said/she-said sexual assault was now an allegation of gang rape by several unknown John Doe rapists who worked as firemen (though she did make a claim of multiple rape to the EEOC, though it is unclear when that claim was made); she claims that after she reported the rape, "Halliburton locked her in a container" (the EEOC found that KBR provided immediate medical treatment and safety and shipped her home immediately) and she threw in an allegation that a "sexual favor" she provided a supervisor in Houston was the result of improper "influence." (But she no longer makes the implausible claim that she was living in an all-male dorm in Iraq.)
The US got the claim dismissed quickly (Jones hasn't yet followed the appropriate administrative claims procedure); the case was transferred back to Houston where it belonged (the trial lawyer's ludicrous brief in opposition didn't help). But the fact that the defendants are pointing out that the lawsuit over a pending arbitration violates 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and are asking for the court to mandate only one single proceeding in arbitration rather than a multiplicity of parallel proceedings, is now being treated as a cause célèbre by the left-wing blogosphere in its campaign against the contractual freedom to arbitrate. (Note that two elements explicitly designed to arouse the ire and inflame the passions of the leftHalliburton and gang-rapeonly came about after Jones switched attorneys.)
The Public Citizen blog complains that "the allegations of corporate and governmental misconduct will never see the light of day" in arbitration. Which is absurd:
1) For crying out loud, her case is on 20/20, which, as is its ken, happily unquestioningly gives the plaintiffs' opening statement in handy manipulative video newsertainment form without mentioning any of the counterevidence. That sort of widespread publicity is hardly the lack of "light of day." 2) If the government fails to offer Jones an adequate settlement for their alleged bungling of the criminal investigation, she has recourse under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the federal governmentthough she likely will not have any more recourse against them than any other criminal victim does when the government fails to protect them against crime or prosecute the criminal. 3) If the court system is about having recourse for injuries, she has that recourse. The judicial system is not for public storytelling; if you want to send a message, use Western Union (or ABC News, as the case may be). 20/20 repeats the meaningless claim that "In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it"meaningless because (1) it doesn't include the cases that settle before arbitration with a favorable result to the employee and (2) there's no comparison with how well such employees would do in the far more expensive forum of litigation (where the vast majority of employees lose at trial as well).
20/20 also adds the claim (absent in the arbitration and in the otherwise-lurid civil complaint) that Jones was threatened that she would be fired if she sought medical treatment.
It goes without saying that any criminal assault should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I haven't seen any support for the contention that there is a loophole that leaves an American contractor's attack on an American outside the scope of criminal prosecution, as some left-wing blogs have claimed. The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, 18 U.S.C. § 3261 ff., permits prosecutions of criminal acts committed by defense contractors working with troops overseas, and there has been a child porn and an attempted rape prosecution under this law for crimes committed in Iraq. The loophole in the news applies to contractors working overseas with the State Department.
People with legitimate claims usually don't have lawyers trying so desperately to forum-shop that they file amateurish briefs like this, and Jones loses a ton of credibility with me over that. At a minimum, Jones's story has changed over time, and has gotten considerably more lurid. The original allegations are bad enough, and, if true, actionable. If the implant rupture and other physical injuries are true, I'm inclined to believe that she was raped, perhaps even gang raped. (Machismo environments like fraternity houses and athletes' dorms are responsible for a disproportionate number of gang rapes, which is why the Duke Lacrosse allegations had so much weight in the early going.) I'm inclined to believe that there was a hostile work environment, and that it was possible that KBR was not doing enough to correct that problem. I'm not currently inclined to believe that the criminal action was the employer's fault, unless the employee in question had shown signs of criminal behavior while working for KBR. And it is entirely consistent with what I know about government if Jones's allegation that the government botched the criminal investigation is true.
Of course, more facts could come to light that change my mind in either direction. There's already been a lot of discovery, but Jones's papers in court seem to focus on me-too evidence (that should eventually be held to be inadmissible) rather than evidence related to Jones. I'd love to see the pending motions for summary judgment in the arbitration that led Jones to file a second lawsuit.
And one hopes Jones realizes that she's being used by attorneys who are pursuing their own agenda to promote the litigation lobby's pet anti-consumer/pro-lawyer legislation. The shenanigans of bringing a second lawsuit and suing the irrelevant Halliburton are not helping her case if she has a legitimate one.
Here is the EEOC Letter of Determination. Bill Childs provides many other court documents. A typical unskeptical adoption of the Public Citizen line can be found at Jezebel and many other blogs. Some Republican partisans are even more skeptical than I am. A more nuanced discussion is at Amber Taylor's blog and Ben Domenech. (And welcome Malkin readers.)
Update: The is a Jamie Jones Foundation; its chronology omits the arbitration claim Jones filed in 2006. The "take action" page makes clear the ulterior motives of lobbying for a Congressional ban on arbitration clausesthough the arbitration clause has nothing to do with bringing any rapists to justice.
A Congressional investigation into the Justice Department's criminal investigation is now in the works, so we should see some answers about why there were no prosecutions.
By Bob Owens
[IMPORTANT BACKGROUND MATERIAL: Read the text published until Tuesday at http://www.jamiesfoundation.org/jaime.htm the page was taken down after PJMs inquiries on the story. It is provided here as reference]
An ABC News report earlier this week alleging a cover-up of the gang-rape of a civilian contractor in Iraq in 2005 has attracted the attention of the chairman of House Judiciary Committee, who is now pressuring the Justice Department to answer specific questions regarding the investigation.
Jamie Leigh Jones, a military wife and former KBR employee, alleges in a pending civil suit that she was drugged, gang-raped, and beaten by fellow KBR contractors at Camp Hope in Baghdad on July 27, 2005, and that the company and the U.S. government are participating in a coverup.
Chairman John Conyers and Rep. Ted Poe cited ABC News blog The Blotter in their request to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, which began:
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, shed be out of a job.
Dont plan on working back in Iraq. There wont be a position here, and there wont 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.
As crucial as it was to initiating a House review of the possible criminal case to be made against Jones attackers, The Blotter report is not responsible journalism.
In what the Associated Press described as a preview of allegations to air on 20/20 next month, ABC News may have exaggerated some elements of the story for dramatic effect while downplaying other facts.
The three-page Blotter story left out significant details of Jones et al. v. Halliburton Company et al., including claims of inappropriate sexual conduct by one of Jones former KBR supervisors while Jones was still a 19-year-old working for KBR in Houston.
According to the original civil complaint filed on May 16 of this year, KBR supervisor Eric Iler was accused of sexual misconduct involving Ms. Jones in advance of her decision to go to Baghdad:
12. Between 2004 and July 21, 2005, Jamie was employed by Halliburton/KBR as an administrative assistant in Houston, Texas, at that time, her immediate supervisor, Eric Iler, was aware of Jamies sick mother at home following a complicated surgical procedure with a difficult post-surgical course, and utilized his influence over her employment to extract sexual favors from Jamie. 13. Eventually, Jamie obtained evidence of the sexual harassment of her supervisor and demanded that he remove her to another department.
14. Once removed from the oversight of Eric Iler, Jamie was transferred to work for Overseas Administrative Services, LTD, in Houston, Texas, beginning July 21, 2005, she was then transferred to an assignment at Camp Hope, Iraq.
For reasons unknown, The Blotter does not find this previous allegation to be worthy of comment in their article, nor a subsequent attempt on Ilers part to follow Jones to Iraq and regain his position as her supervisor as described in the court papers even though this would certainly seem to further allegations that KBR created the boys will be boys environment where sexual harassment was excused, if not encouraged.
There is also the issue of a serious discrepancy between The Blotter story, the civil case documents, and Jones own account on The Jamie Leigh Foundations web site as to what happened to the rape kit collected by U.S. Army medical personnel in the wake of her assault.
According to The Blotter:
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.
Absent from the original or amended filing, however, was anything that could be construed as a claim of the rape kit being handed over by U.S. Army medical personnel to KBR security officers as alleged in The Blotter report.
A chronological account on the Jamie Leigh Foundation web site actually seems to refute such a claim. If the Foundation account written by Ms. Jones is accurate, the U.S. State Department handled, lost and reclaimed some of the contents of the rape kit without any KBR personnel being involved:
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 doctors 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 doctors 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.
The page on the Foundation that held Jones chronology of events http://www.jamiesfoundation.org/jaime.htm - has been pulled down since Tuesday.
This happened after Pajamas Media asked Jones lawyer Todd Kelly about several claims made on that page Tuesday morning. It is yet unknown whether or not the questions asked about Ms. Jones claims had anything to do with the removal of this page from the Foundations web site, or its removal from the sites navigation. Emails to Mr. Kelly and the sites webmaster have not been returned. A reference copy of the chronology as it was originally published is provided by Pajamas Media here.
A third claim made in The Blotter is that in the wake of the alleged rape, Jones was, held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR
Shipping containers typically found in Iraq (and elsewhere) are either 20 or 40 steel and aluminum boxes with little to no ventilation. On the days Jones was confined by KBR (July 29-30, 2005), the mean average temperature was 100-degrees, with air temperatures over 110 degrees for 6 hours straight both afternoons. It seems implausible that a person would survive such conditions without adequate food and water.
Once again, the allegations made in the civil suit tell a somewhat different story:
a. 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; There are significant variances between the versions of eventsand even the mention of key eventstold in The Blotter, the civil court documents of Jones et al. v. Halliburton Company et al., and the now-deleted chronological events page known as Jamies Journal.
Let us hope that the Department of Justice investigation is more thorough.
Hillary is calling for a full scale investigation into these allegations... maybe there is hope for Juanita yet...if only Hillary would get behind her as well..
Oh, sorry! Thank you for playing "Lawsuit Jackpot". Don Pardo, who's our next contestant?
Apparently she didn't see the Mythbusters episode where they demonstrated that breast implants are virtually indestructible. Can't be run over, can't be exploded via low pressure, etc.
A lot of interesting discrepancies detailed here.
>maybe there is hope for Juanita yet...if only Hillary would get behind her as well..
Oh, dude. I was eating.
UGH! How long has that corpse been dead??
UCMJ does not treat rape kindly.
What bothers me about this is that there should be documentation of her rescue...it either happend or not. It just seems way over the top.
UCMJ does not treat rape kindly.
What bothers me about this is that there should be documentation of her rescue...it either happend or not. It just seems way over the top.
Something just isn’t right with this story. Some of the bits, like being locked in a container, I just don’t believe. And a rape kit wouldn’t be given over to KBR people... it would be kept by the doctors until given to investigators. Was there a kit done at all? Apparently the all-male dorm part wasn’t true, either.
Seems to be some embellishment going on. Oh... and she’s sold the film rights to her story already. Well isn’t that interesting.
What is your point?
Do you think she lied about this and the rest?
Sounds like a KBR/Halliburton fluff piece
Never mentioned that KBR basically admitted they “locked her up” after she was raped...locked her in a conatiner “So she could calm down” (according to KBR)
Since Halliburton still owned KBR at the time, I believe, Halliburton will be part of the suit. If she was hired by Halliburton while they owned KBR, they would still be liable
Losing the rape-kit evidence is going to also sink KBR/Halliburton on this one. No reasonable explanation for that one
Rape lawsuits are so much easier to prove in civil court than in criminal court...mainly because the victim/plaintiff can bring in past misconduct of the perp....something that is hard to do in a criminal court.
Also, in case you all want to make this a left/right issue....Congressman Ted Poe (R, TX) is involved in this one...and was the Congressman who got the State Dept to pressure KBG/HB to release her from confinement
Actually, one of my wife’s implants burst while she was showering. No blunt force trauma or anything. It just... burst. Her body absorbed the saline without discomfort and the whole thing was just an unpleasant surprise.
Don’t look directly into the nostrils...don’t look directly into the nostrils...awww dammit I looked.
“UCMJ does not treat rape kindly.”
The UCMJ doesnt apply here. In the legislation authorizing our going into Iraq....there were amendments installed that prohibited contractors and their employees from being under the UCMJ
Let’s see......shower(tons of hot water), commode, sink/mirror, Excellent AC/heat window unit, single bed, mattress, sheets, blanket, good lighting. TV if you buy one.
There are two MWR’s very close with computers & phones.
I contracted an ear infection last winter and was ordered to stay in my hooch for 24 hrs. & rest. My coworkers brought meals from the nearby DFAC.
I cannot believe anyone physically prevented any contact with the outside world - the place is a sieve electronically.
As for the barracks....they have always been occupied by both sexes. Of course they do NOT mix male/females - how stupid to even think that - only married couples share a living container/room. These same barracks have segregated bathrooms either by opposite ends of the building or by being on another floor.
Whether or not she was assaulted will need to be sorted out - I personally never heard of the incident at the time.
If she was hurt, the offending person(s) should be shot.
We witnessed many insane decisions by upper management which defied logic, but due to the sheer number of expats present it would be difficult to keep this buried for long.
Just picture that face and you visualize a typical DUer/Democrat voter.....