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December 12, 2007

More on Jones/KBR "Gang Rape" Allegations

Everyone's dancing on eggshells about this, and I suppose that's proper. Still, if one ventures a perfectly honest opinion, I think one has to say that frequently changing allegations are not generally taken to be a sign of veracity.

In February 2006, Jamie Leigh Jones filed an arbitration complaint, complaining that, for her administrative assistant job with KBR in Iraq, she was placed in an all-male dorm for living arrangements, and a co-worker sexually assaulted her. (KBR says the co-worker claimed the sex was consensual, though Jones claims physical injuries, such as burst breast implants and torn pectoral muscles, that are plainly not consistent with consensual sex. The EEOC’s Letter of Determination credited the allegation of sexual assault.)

Fifteen months later, after extensive discovery in the arbitration, Jones, who lives in Houston, and whose lawyer is based in Houston, and who worked for KBR in Houston, sued KBR and a bunch of other entities (including Halliburton, for whom she never worked, and the United States), in federal court in Beaumont, Texas. The claims were suddenly of much more outrageous conduct: the original allegation of a single he-said/she-said sexual assault was now an allegation of gang rape by several unknown John Doe rapists who worked as firemen (though she did make a claim of multiple rape to the EEOC, though it is unclear when that claim was made); she claims that after she reported the rape, “Halliburton locked her in a container” (the EEOC found that KBR provided immediate medical treatment and safety and shipped her home immediately) and she threw in an allegation that a “sexual favor” she provided a supervisor in Houston was the result of improper “influence.” (But she no longer makes the implausible claim that she was living in an all-male dorm in Iraq.)

Not to mention her claim that all the evidence of the gang-rape was turned over by Army doctors to KBR agents who immediately destroyed the rape kits, and the implication that these Army doctors are, for reasons unfathomable, keeping radio-silent because, I guess, they really want gang-rapists to go free.

Yeah, the disclaimer: It's possible this happened. Her fresh charges (a gang rape, being locked in a container) and her retracted charges (being housed in an all-male dorm) could be explained away.

But what are those explanations? Does anyone inquire to ask, or is asking her too insensitive?

Are we to again say, "Oh yes, women frequently forget all the details of a rape and offer shifting stories for months afterwards" as we did in the Duke case? How about we just risk some insensitivity and demand she credibly explain the evolution of her claims?

I have trouble believing this affair she had with her supervisor was due to his somehow blackmailing her over her sick mother. It sounds like after-the-fact bullshit made up for the benefit of a cuckolded husband... and it especially sounds like that now that I find out this is a fairly recent allegation.

I seem to remember a recent lurid allegation of gang-rape with similar evidentiary problems. Everyone just assumed the complainant must be telling the truth -- including me, quite frankly -- and we all know how that turned out.

Well, we don't all know how that turned out. Amanda Marcotte, Jill From Feminste, etc., are still pretty sure "something happened" there.

Thanks to CJ.

Oh: As the Overlawyered blogger cited by Michelle (and quoted above notes), it's possible that she's honest about the rape, basically, but lying about most everything else.

Why? Well, for the same reason women often lie about the exact circumstances of a rape in a civil lawsuit: Because rapists are piss-poor and judgment proof whereas corporations are rich cash bonanzas... if only a credible claim of negligence on the part of the corporation can be made. And if that means alleging, say, that you frequently warned your employers that its parking lot was unsafe at night and improperly lit and so on and so forth, well, even if it's not quite true, if that's what it takes to make a case that's what it takes to make a case.

There are a lot of civil lawsuits about rape where the rape is never in any doubt whatsoever. The whole fight is over whether or not the employer or corporation or whoever was negligent in preventing the rape. And that's where sometimes the allegations begin to evolve to neatly track with the requirements of a negligence suit.

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posted by Ace at 07:26 PM

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