A woman who says she was drugged and gang-raped while working for military contractor KBR in Iraq will face down an attorney for KBR in a Texas courtroom today.
Jamie Leigh Jones, now 26, was working her fourth day on the job in Baghdad in 2005 when she says she was assaulted by seven U.S. contractors and held captive by two KBR guards in a shipping container. Jones, whose story was featured in an award-winning ABC News "20/20" investigation, is one of a group of women who claim they were harassed or assaulted while working for KBR and former parent company Halliburton in Iraq. She is suing KBR, former parent company Halliburton and KBR firefighter Charles Bortz, who she claims was one of the rapists.
Jones, who took the stand for the first time Thursday, testified Tuesday that she was "scared to death" the morning after she was attacked, and said she was held against her will without food or water by KBR officials when she reported the alleged assault. "As I'm banging on the door, I say, 'I need to get out of here. I need to contact my dad,'" testified Jones.
Jones said she woke up that morning with no memory of what had happened after a night of drinking, but then began "putting the pieces together."
"I knew I had been raped," said Jones tearfully.
Bortz, who was never criminally charged, has denied raping Jones, and has countersued. His attorney cross-examined Jones Monday, questioning her about her sexual history and suggesting that her liaison with Bortz was consensual. He also said she had offered differing versions of how the alleged rape occurred. Jones denied that the sex was consensual.
KBR's attorneys, representing both KBR and former parent company Halliburton, are expected to begin their cross-examination of Jones today.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for KBR said the company is proud of its work in Iraq, takes employee safety "very seriously" and looks forward to establishing the true facts of Jones's claims at trial.
"Ms. Jones and her lawyers have made many different and varied assertions," said the spokesperson. "Ms. Jones and her counsel are not what they claim and KBR is not what they assert."
Attorneys for Jones declined comment on the specifics of their clients' testimony. "We are proud to be representing a woman who is brave enough to put her personal life in front of a jury in an effort to seek justice," said attorney Stephanie Morris.
Sexual Assault in Iraq Alleged
Jones began working at KBR as an administrative assistant in 2004 at age 19. She says she went to Iraq to get away from her KBR supervisor in Texas, who she claimed had pressured her into a sexual relationship. She said she had gone along with the relationship because she was living with her mother, who needed money for medical care, in a one-bedroom apartment.
On July 28, 2005, the night of the alleged assault in Baghdad, claims Jones, she recalls standing outside her barracks in the Green Zone with several Halliburton firefighters when one male offered her a drink, saying she shouldn't worry because he had "saved all his roofies for Dubai." "Roofies" is a slang name for rohypnol, the so-called "date-rape" drug.
"I naively took the drink. I remember nothing after taking a couple of sips," Jones testified before the U.S. Senate in 2009. "When I awoke in my room the next morning, I was naked, I was sore, I was bruised and I was bleeding. I was groggy and confused and didn't know why."
Jones, suspecting she had been raped, went to the bathroom to assess her injuries. When she returned, she says she found Bortz still there, lying naked in her bed. After reporting the incident to a KBR operations coordinator, Jones was taken to a Combat Army Support Hospital, where she says a rape kit revealed she had been raped vaginally and anally by multiple perpetrators.
Jones says she was then locked in a shipping container with two armed guards stationed outside and not permitted to leave or contact anyone. Eventually she convinced a guard to let her use his cell phone. She called her father, who contacted Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), who then dispatched State Department officials to ensure her release and return to the U.S. The State Department declined to charge Bortz after an investigation.
Like other alleged victims, Jones had signed a contract requiring her to deal with sexual assault allegations through arbitration. But in September 2009 a federal appeals court ruled that the case could go to court instead of arbitration. In October 2009, Jones testified before Congress in support of the Franken Amendment, now passed, which prohibits contractors with Pentagon contracts from using arbitration as opposed to the courts against ex-employees claiming sexual assault. "I had no idea that the clause was part of the contract, what the clause actually meant, or that I would eventually end up in this horrible situation," testified Jones.
When Jones's lawsuit finally reached a federal courtroom in Houston on June 14, it was almost six years after the alleged incident.
KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, has extensive contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jones's attorney Todd Kelly, who has so far represented five former KBR employees who have alleged sexual assault or harassment, told ABC News in April that in all about 40 women have contacted his office about alleged incidents that occurred while they were working overseas for KBR or at one of its facilities.