EXCLUSIVE: No Prosecution for State Dept Official Accused of Sexual Assault

Case "declined for prosecution." Bid to suspend security clearance denied.


Dec. 14, 2007 — -- The Department of Justice declined to prosecute a State Department employee who allegedly sexually assaulted a female Halliburton/KBR worker in Iraq, despite a recommendation from the State Department that he be charged, according to an internal document obtained by ABC News.

Ali Mokhtare, who is still employed by the State Department, was investigated in 2005 after a female Halliburton/KBR employee said he sexually assaulted her at the company-run camp in Basra, Iraq. Mokhtare was a diplomatic official in Basra who first came to Iraq as a Farsi translator interviewing detainees.

The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service investigated the allegations against Mokhtare and presented the case to the Justice Department for prosecution, but "the case was declined for prosecution" states the document.

Furthermore, investigators requested that the State Department suspend Mokhtare's security clearance, but according to a handwritten note at the bottom of the document, that request was denied.

Neither the departments of State nor Justice would comment for this article.

Watch a report on this story on ABC News' "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Tracy Barker, Mokhtare's alleged victim, is a mother of five from Fort Bragg, N.C. She says she wants Mokhtare to be prosecuted for attempted rape and assault.

"I'm an American citizen being assaulted by a State Department employee," said Barker "and nobody cares and nothing's being done about it."

Barker's attorney, Stephanie Morris, said the lack of prosecution sends a message to overseas contractors that it is a "free for all."

"You are not going to be prosecuted and you are not going to be disciplined by anybody," said Morris.

Barker said that even the State Department agent assigned to her case, Lynn Falanga, advised her to sue the U.S. government when Mokhtare was let off the hook.

"She called me and my husband from her own home and said that the State Department was covering it up and that I needed to get an attorney and that they were going to let him continue assaulting people," said Barker.

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Falanga did not return a call seeking comment from ABC News.

Despite the fact that it was more than two years ago, Barker said she remembers her assault vividly. She said that one evening in the summer of 2005 at the KBR camp in Basra, Mokhtare approached her and he said that he needed help with his air conditioner. Barker handled repair orders, and she said she offered to come look at it the next morning.

Barker said Mokhtare told her that it was too hot to wait, and he needed her to come look at it tonight. But when she arrived at his room, Mokhtare didn't have the air conditioner on his mind, according to Barker.

"He had poured a glass of Jack Daniels and offered me a drink, and of course, I declined," said Barker. "He jumped up and grabbed me around the neck and tried to get my shirt off of me."

Barker said she struggled with him for a few minutes before she managed to fight him off.

Barker reported the incident, and a State Department investigator interviewed Mokhtare.

Mokhtare denied that he had attempted to rape her, but admitted that he had gone too far with Tracy, and signed a statement to that effect, which ABC News has obtained.

In the document, Mokhtare states he "admitted that he pulled her vest and shirt" and that he asked Barker, "What do you have behind there?"

He also says that he "made a mistake and it was stupid," according to the document.

Despite his admission, Mokhtare, a U.S. citizen, still works at the State Department today. He would not comment to ABC News when we located him in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

Barker is yet another female former employee of Halliburton/KBR that has come forward to ABC News saying she was sexually assaulted, harassed and threatened while working in Iraq.

Barker says that aside from the sexual assault, she was constantly propositioned by her superior, and threatened and isolated after she reported the incident.

From the moment she arrived at the Halliburton/KBR camp in Basra, Iraq, she said she was treated like a sex object.

"When I arrived in Basra, there were about five men that work on the camp [for Halliburton/KBR] and they were waiting for me," Barker told ABC News "20/20" in an exclusive interview.

"I was told they wanted to see what I look like," she said, "to make sure I was decent-looking before they approved my transfer."

Barker said her KBR boss in Basra repeatedly propositioned her and threatened her.

"The manager of the camp kept making gestures of how if I wanted my safety to exist on the camp, that I needed to sleep with him and that's all he kept saying to me," said Barker.

Barker said her co-workers were not much better. She said when she first arrived at her new office it looked more like a fraternity house than a place of business.

"On my way into the office, there was pictures of prostitutes and animals having sex pasted in the hallway," she said. "Our office was just wallpapered with pornography. There was not one space of wall at all."

Barker said she inquired from her male co-worker where her workplace was located.

"My co-worker told me that, 'You can either sit at the end of my desk or on the floor, because that's where the women sit that work with me,'" Barker said.

When Tracy tried to report the co-worker to her manager, she said the manager's gestures towards her only got worse.

"If I don't feel safe, I can come to his room and get a backrub or sleep with him," Barker said she was told.

Barker said following the sexual assault, she reported Mokhtare to her camp manager and he barred her from discussing it with anyone, not even her husband, whom she desperately wanted to call.

"I can't sleep, I keep crying, I want to call my husband," Barker said she told her boss. "He said, 'Oh no, no, no. If you want to talk to somebody, you call me, you talk to me.'"

During the State Department's investigation of her allegations, Barker said, one of the investigators asked her to put on the outfit that the had worn on the night of the assault -- long khaki pants, a button-down shirt, and a vest.

"I was told to wear those clothes for three days to see if I was any kind of temptation to the male species," she said.

As in similar cases, KBR has moved for Barker's claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom, as provided under the terms of her original employment contract. In arbitration, there is no public record or transcript of the proceedings, and participants are generally prohibited from discussing the details of the case.

Barker's lawyer, Todd Kelly, said that Halliburton/KBR created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at the company barracks, which put females at great risk.

Halliburton has since divested itself of KBR and says it "is improperly named" in the suit.

In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."

"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."

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