KBR responds to ex-worker’s gang-rape claim
07:27 AM CDT on Thursday, October 22, 2009
By Len Cannon/khou 11 News
HOUSTON—A woman claimed she was gang-raped in 2005 while working in Iraq for the Houston-based company KBR, but the company said those allegations are not true. Jamie Leigh Jones said she has been waiting for years for her attackers to be punished.
“I know I was drugged, I know I was raped,” she said. “And I have suffered for four years trying to get my day in court to be able to face the corporation that allowed it to happen, and my perpetrators.”
KBR is disputing Jones’ claims. They said she was a willing participant in the sex act, and they said the incident only involved only one man.
The company referred to the testimony of a KBR firefighter who said he had sex with Jones the night of the alleged assault. In an e-mail sent to 11 News, KBR said, “The firefighter admits that he and Ms. Jones had consensual sex. However he is certain that nobody else was present or had sex with Ms. Jones that night.”
Jones said the sex was not consensual and claimed she was bruised and bleeding after the incident.
“KBR has signed a chain-of-custody receipt showing that the sealed rape kit was turned over to the State Department. KBR has no knowledge of the contents,” a company statement said.
11 News contacted the State Department to find out if it does, in fact, have the 4-year-old rape kit.
They replied, “The rape kit is being stored in accordance with the U.S. Department of State standards.”
The case has now switched investigators. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security that conducted the investigation said they’ve turned the case over to the Department of Justice.
In 2008, three years after Jones said she was assaulted, a U.S. attorney presented the case to a grand jury.
Jones testified before the grand jury, but no one was indicted.
Now Jones is seeking her day in civil court. She sued KBR. Her lawyer claimed the company created the atmosphere that led to her attack.
“So what they did was they brought an unknowing victim to frankly a bunch of jackals who took advantage of the situation,” said Jones’ attorney, Todd Kelly.
KBR argues the matter can’t be handled in court because Jones is bound by her employment agreement that states all disputes must be handled in arbitration, privately.
A panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Jones, but now KBR is asking that the case be reviewed by the entire Fifth Circuit.
Through it all, Jones has shown determination and patience, but for now her battle isn’t over. It appears arbitration or a trial is a long way off.