Halliburton Under Fire Over Rape Charge

Jamie Leigh Jones CBS/AP

Halliburton, the company with $2 billion in Iraq contracts, is accused of once again joining the U.S. government in covering up a terrible crime by some employees.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22-years-old, was working for Halliburton in Baghdad when she says a group of co-workers sexually assaulted her and then locked her in a shipping container under guard without food or water. She remained there until she convinced a sympathetic guard to sneak her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

Jones' father then called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. Poe said he contacted the State Department, which dispatched agents to rescue Jones.

"Within 48 hours, they had gone to Baghdad, two agents found her, rescued her, got her to an Army hospital, got her medical needs taken care of and she was brought back home," Poe told CBS' The Early Show on Wednesday.

But, Poe says, "Once she got back, that's when things seemed to stop. We could not get any satisfaction from the State Department on who these people were that assaulted her, where they were."

However, he says, now that Jones has made the allegations public, "I expect things are moving much faster."

"We're going to get some answers," Poe said.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to give a full account of its investigation into the matter.

Jones filed a federal lawsuit in May against Halliburton Co., its former subsidiary, KBR Inc. and others claiming she was raped by co-workers while working at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey if his office had investigated Jones' claims and whether the Justice Department has jurisdiction to prosecute under military provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

Conyers also seeks clarification on a statement from KBR, the military contractor that split from Halliburton in April, that says it had initiated investigations into the alleged assault but later halted the probe.

KBR has said it was "instructed to cease by government authorities because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said Tuesday the agency was reviewing Conyers' letter. "The Department is investigating this matter and because it's an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment further," Carr said.

Jones' case got renewed attention this week after ABC News previewed a report of the allegations it plans to air on "20/20" next month.

Jones began working for KBR as an administrative assistant in 2004 when she was 19, but later transferred to Iraq with another Halliburton subsidiary, according to her lawsuit.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, claims Jones lived in a co-ed barracks and, after enduring harassment from some of the men in the quarters, was drugged and raped July 28, 2005. Her attackers were Halliburton and KBR firefighters, the suit claims.

The petition says the facility was under direct control of the U.S. government, KBR and Halliburton, collectively.

Jones' attorney, L. Todd Kelly, declined to say where Jones was living now because she fears for her safety. He declined to elaborate.

Jones' Web site highlights her nonprofit foundation to help fellow contract workers who may have been sexually assaulted, and displays her "therapeutic" still-life paintings that she offers to paint on commission. The site also mentions a screenplay of her story in Iraq.

In a statement, KBR said it couldn't comment on specifics of the case but that the safety and security of its employees were its top priority.

Halliburton says it is improperly named in the matter and expects to be dismissed from the case. "It would be inappropriate for Halliburton to comment on the merits of a matter affecting only the interest of KBR," the oilfield services company said in a statement.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined Tuesday to comment on specifics of the case, but he confirmed its Bureau of Diplomatic Security had responded to and investigated the incident. He said the results were turned over to the Justice Department.
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