HOUSTON – Attorneys for military contractor KBR Inc. and an ex-KBR firefighter tried to portray a Texas woman who says she was drugged and sexually assaulted in Iraq at the hands of co-workers as someone with a history of dishonesty and tried to point out to jurors on Tuesday what they believe are inconsistencies in her claims.
Jamie Leigh Jones, 26, is one of several women who worked for KBR and former parent Halliburton Co. who say they were sexually assaulted or harassed while working for the companies in Iraq.
Jones says she was raped in 2005 while working for KBR at Camp Hope, Baghdad. She has sued KBR, Halliburton and a former KBR firefighter, Charles Bortz, whom she says was one of her rapists. The Houston-based companies and Bortz deny Jones' allegations. The alleged sexual assault was investigated by authorities but no criminal charges have been filed.
Jones has told jurors she was drugged and then raped by a group of KBR firefighters. She said Bortz was in her room the next morning. She says she has no memory of what happened because she believes she was drugged with Rohypnol, known as the "date rape drug," just before she was sexually assaulted.
The Associated Press usually doesn't identify people alleging sexual assault, but Jones' face and name have been in media reports and she has promoted her case on her own website.
Bortz's attorney tried to show that after the alleged rape, Jones did not appear to act like she had been attacked but instead went to work as normal, joked around and talked about camp gossip.
McKinney showed jurors a series of emails Jones wrote at work the morning after the alleged sexual assault in which Jones joked with one of her friends at the camp and told the friend she felt the women at the camp hated her. Her friend warned her to not get "caught up in camp gossip."
Jones said she has no memory of writing these emails because she believed she was still feeling the Rohypnol's affects. Later, Jones and her attorneys suggested to jurors that at least one of these emails was sent before the sexual assault and the email's time stamp might have been altered.
"It was either the drug or shock. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to go on with my job. I did not want (the rape) to be my reality," Jones tearfully responded.
But McKinney said testing done by the Department of the Army of a urine sample from Jones that was taken within 24 hours of the alleged sexual assault detected no Rohypnol.
McKinney has tried to suggest to jurors that Jones has changed details about how she was sexually assaulted, that she wasn't as severely injured as she claimed to be and that she has a history of making false accusations of sexual harassment.
Joanne Vorpahl, one of KBR's attorneys, tried to portray Jones to jurors as someone who has a history of being dishonest on resumes and job applications, including not disclosing in a medical questionnaire she filled out before leaving for Iraq that she had been treated in prior years for various things, including depression, dizziness and kidney and bladder problems.
Jones said these were simply mistakes and she never intended to be dishonest.
Vorpahl also asked Jones why she had never previously mentioned, until the trial, that a KBR official had allegedly told Jones shortly after she reported her rape to "be careful because another girl was raped and she was buried over here."
Jones said she didn't remember anything about the statement until someone reminded her of it this past week.
Jones has accused KBR officials of locking her in a trailer after she told them about the rape and not letting her call her family.
As she's been questioned by attorneys for KBR and Bortz, Jones has been asked about her sexual history, including some sexually transmitted diseases she's had.
"If I had some kind of apprehension about telling someone my STDs I wouldn't have filed this lawsuit. I'm OK with that if it makes them stop abusing women," Jones said.
Jones, who has been on the witness stand for three days, was expected to finish testifying on Wednesday.
She testified she's been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, takes medications for anxiety and had to have reconstructive surgery for her breasts, which were disfigured in her attack.
KBR and Halliburton were unsuccessful in having Jones' case settled through arbitration as stipulated in her contract.
Due in part to Jones' case, federal lawmakers in 2009 approved a measure prohibiting contractors and subcontractors that receive $1 million in funds from the Department of Defense from requiring employees to resolve sexual assault allegations and other claims through arbitration.
Jones is asking for unspecified damages from KBR and Halliburton, which split in 2007.