Hooray for U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison not compelling her to go to arbitration. Obviously Halliburton and KBR wanted this kept quiet. Jamie Leigh Jones absolutely refuses to go away quietly; Testifying before Congress, allowing her name to be published, going on Dan Abrams and pursuing the trial. The AP story that ran in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram yesterday after the jump.
I am so glad that the judge did not shuffle this under the rug of arbitration. It is much more available to public scrutiny in a courtroom than in an arbitrator's hands. The rape kit evidence was given to the security for KBR by the doctor. She was held for 24 hrs, imprisoned in a shipping container with armed guards. One of the guards actually let her use his cell phone and she called her dad. Who had already contacted Ted Poe(TX-02). Who got on the job immediately.
"I became involved in this issue nearly three years ago when my constituent called me asking for help for his daughter, Jamie Leigh Jones," Poe stated in written testimony. "The United States government has a responsibility to protect American civilians who work in support of an American military mission overseas. The government affords these protections to American citizens on American soil and to American soldiers in combat, but the government doesn't know how to react when the crime involves contractors. This is unacceptable."
Apparently she at least gets to bring this to a civil trial, even if there is no shot at criminal charges. KBR and Halliburton did not want any sort of trial. I am sure they were willing to pay her off, but she doesn't want to hide. Public disclosure of the events is at the core of her effort.
Washington-based attorney Stephanie Morris said her client is pleased that she will have the opportunity to bring attention to the case.
"We are extremely excited we can now go forward and present the case in the public arena and make the public aware of what been going on overseas in Iraq. Halliburton has ratified gross sexual conduct by their failure to act," Morris said.
Halliburton's attorneys argued in March that the employment agreement Jones signed says any claims made by an employee against the company that in any way touch on his or her employment have to be settled through arbitration, in which a third party would resolve the case through a private hearing process.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison says the court will not compel the plaintiff to go to arbitration for her claims related to being assaulted. However, those claims cannot be pursued until other workplace-related claims are arbitrated.
"We entirely conceded those could go to arbitration," Morris said.
This is not going away for KBR. This is going to be nasty and rude. I want to hear how they defend themselves. It is not going to be pleasant for Jamie Leigh Jones by any stretch. No, it will surely mean her being cast as a willing participant in her own rape. But, despite the attacks that will come and have come her way already, she is willing to pursue this case in the full light of the public arena. I applaud her for her continued struggle against KBR and for the District judge not allowing KBR to sweep this under the rug. This was a decision for disclosure and openness.
She even has a foundation now to help others who suffered through similar circumstances.
The Jamie Leigh Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping United States citizens and legal residents who are victims of crime while working abroad for government contractors and subcontractors. We demand government contract corporations and government entities to act responsibly, and be held accountable to provide a work environment free of sexual harassment, and limit the potential for abuse. We insist contractors to disclose criminal activity to employees and prospective employees so that they can make educated decisions regarding their safety. We work toward the day when all US citizen contractors will be able to work without fear, consternation, and safety concerns
It is sad that we have to have a foundation to protect people who should not have to worry about such things. I hope they take KBR for millions.I hope the Congress acts soon to enact laws to prosecute the lawless contractors, not only for crimes like this, but they myriad of other laws that have been utterly ignored. Sounds like I ought to fire off another email to Chet Edwards.
Update: ABC News has it on their front page. Perhaps this might find some legs in the traditional mediaABC News