Jamie Leigh Jones Daigle
She was 19 years old when she began working as an administrative assistant at the Houston office of Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, the world’s largest defense contractor.
When a job opened up with another Halliburton subsidiary overseas, Jamie Leigh Jones jumped at the chance to make some extra money to help support her ill mother. She arrived in Iraq on July 24, 2005 to start work.
Four days later she says she was drugged then gang raped in the co-ed barracks by Halliburton employed firefighters. In a lawsuit filed last May, Jones says she woke up the next morning bruised and bloody. But her ordeal wasn’t over.
Jamie says the company put her in a guarded trailer and told her she’d be out of a job if she left Iraq to seek medical treatment. “Get over it” she says she was told.
It was only when a sympathetic guard let her use a cell phone to call her father that agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad came to the Halliburton Camp Hope and brought her home.
That’s the story Jamie Leigh has been telling but no one has been listening.
More than two years after the attack, Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for a formal investigation into Jones’ claims.
And this week her rape allegations were the topic of a Justice Department inquiry into whether any prosecutions are forthcoming.
Rep John Conyers (D-Michigan) asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey if his office had any intention to prosecute the men responsible.
The Capital Hill outrage and attention have been sparked by excerpts that aired this week for an upcoming ABC News “20/20” investigative report. Unlike other similar rape allegations against Halliburton her lawyer says this case will be public.
L. Todd Kelly tells IB News “We think the public needs to know.”
But her lawsuit filed last May against KBR, Halliburton and the U.S. government may never be publicly aired.
That’s because KBR claims that Jones’ employment contract stipulates any disputes will be settled by private arbitration. In that case no judge, jury or the public would hear anything about the case. Instead an arbitrator hired by the corporation would decide its outcome.
“It’s absolutely horrific secret binding arbitration and it’s not appeal able,” Kelly says.
Because of private arbitration the outcomes of other similar cases against Halliburton are unknown. Four female employees of KBR filed sexual harassment and rape charges earlier this year. Kelly knows of nine women who claim they’ve been sexually assaulted by Halliburton employees in Iraq.
That’s prior knowledge the company never shared with Jones her lawyer says, and that makes the contract fraudulent.
“Halliburton knew at the time they contracted with her that she was going to Iraq and other women had been raped since 2004. They didn’t disclose that to her or even warn her. She thought she was safe because she was working with the world’s largest defense contractor” Kelly says.
Halliburton has argued it divested itself from its subsidiary KBR and should not be named in the suit. However, it did not break its ties with KBR until April of this year, well after the alleged rape.
As for evidence - the rape kit administered by an army hospital in Iraq that allegedly proves vaginal and anal rape disappeared after being turned over to KBR security.
The complaint was filed in U.S District Court in Beaumont, Texas by Jamie Leigh and her husband Joseph Daigle. It identifies one attacker, Charles Boartz of Navarre, Florida. But it says there are more and the government has been complicit in covering for those involved.
“It’s been reported to the state department and we pushed for prosecution but two and a half years later they have known and have the DNA and won’t tell who he is,” Kelly says.
KBR has said in a statement about its own investigation it was ''instructed to cease by government authorities because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations.'' But ABC News could find that no government agency has taken over the investigation.
“20/20” is somewhat unclear when the story will run but the New York Times is reporting it will air next month.
Jamie has turned to writing and painting as therapy. She has started the Jamie Leigh Foundation to help other women who have been sexually assaulted and harassed overseas. Her web site shows examples of her work which can be commissioned and she is working on a book.
Kelly says some of the cynics in the blogging world see that as cashing in, something he calls a misinterpretation.
“ I’ve never had a client I was more proud of. She is pursing this for all the right reasons. The blogs are angering to me. If we get an opportunity to present this case to a jury, the world will know.” #