HOUSTON – The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department on Tuesday to give a full account of its investigation into the alleged rape of a female contract worker in Iraq two years ago.
Jamie Leigh Jones, a former Conroe resident, 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 for a Halliburton subsidiary at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.
The Associated Press usually does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, but Jones' face and name have been broadcast by ABC News and appear on her own Web site.
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 coed 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.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who signed Conyers' letter, sent his own inquiry to Mukasey on Monday. He said Jones' father contacted his office after the alleged rape and said his daughter reported KBR/Halliburton was holding her in a shipping container without food and water.
Poe said he then contacted the State Department, which dispatched agents to rescue Jones.
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.