Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Jury rejects woman’s rape claims in KBR suit

Houston Chronicle  July 8, 2011

Jurors in a Houston federal courtroom on Friday rejected a former Conroe woman’s claims she was drugged and gang-raped while working for Kellogg Brown and Root in Iraq in 2005.

The jury also rejected Jamie Leigh Jones’ fraud claims against the Houston-based defense contractor.

Jones, 26, had sued KBR and former KBR fireman Charles Boartz, accusing the company of creating a “sexually hostile working environment” at its Camp Hope installation in Iraq in 2005. She named Boartz as one of the alleged rapists.

Boartz, 34, denied raping Jones, saying the two engaged in consensual sex. The jurors agreed with Boartz.

The jury also found that KBR did not commit fraud by inducing Jones to enter into an employment contract.

By answering “no” to those two questions, jurors were not obligated to continue deliberations on other questions in the jury charge.

The month-long trial ended earlier this week, with both sides delivering closing statements on Thursday. The jury deliberated about five hours on Thursday and six hours Friday.

Jones sued KBR in 2007, accusing employees of the former Halliburton subsidiary of imprisoning her in a shipping container for more than six hours after she reported the alleged attack. She testified during the trial that she was denied food, water or the opportunity to call home for help.

In closing statements Thursday, Jones’ lawyers said the company gave the green light for other employees to commit similar offenses by neglecting to enforce its sexual harassment policies as far back as the late 1990s.

Lawyers for KBR and Boartz accused Jones of making up the attack, pointing out that doctors’ tests showed no sign of drugs in her system after the alleged incident. Defense attorneys throughout the trial accused Jones of lying repeatedly on company documents and questioned what they said where inconsistencies in her story.

Jones’ lawyers asked jurors to order KBR to pay up to 5 percent of its net worth in actual and punitive damages, which they said would have amounted to more than $114 million

Please see the original story at The Houston Chronicle


July 8, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Rape, Safety and Security Issues, Sexual Assault | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense Defines Sexual Assault for Contractors

From Courthouse News Service July 7, 2011

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Defense has issued regulations to ensure private military contractor employees accompanying U.S. Armed Forces are made aware of the agency’s definition of sexual assault.
The regulations clarify that many of the offenses addressed in the definition are covered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The regulations also require contractors to make employees aware that some sexual assault offenses in the definition are not covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but they may nevertheless have consequences to contractor employees.
“[T]he term ‘sexual assault’ is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy (oral or anal sex), and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive, or wrongful (to include unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact), or attempts to commit these acts,” according to Department of Defense Directive 6495.01 E2.1.13, as amended in 2008. The same section also defines consent.

Please go to Courthouse News Service to see the document

July 7, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, Sexual Assault | , , , | Leave a comment

Female Foreign Correspondents’ Code of Silence, Finally Broken

This piece was co-published in the New York Times as Why we need Woman in War Zones

By Kim Barker at ProPublica

Thousands of men blocked the road, surrounding the S.U.V. of the chief justice of Pakistan, a national hero for standing up to military rule. As a correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, I knew I couldn’t just watch from behind a car window. I had to get out there.

So, wearing a black headscarf and a loose, long-sleeved red tunic over jeans, I waded through the crowd and started taking notes: on the men throwing rose petals, on the men shouting that they would die for the chief justice, on the men sacrificing a goat.

And then, almost predictably, someone grabbed my buttocks. I spun around and shouted, but then it happened again, and again, until finally I caught one offender’s hand and punched him in the face. The men kept grabbing. I kept punching. At a certain point — maybe because I was creating a scene — I was invited into the chief justice’s vehicle.

At the time, in June 2007, I saw this as just one of the realities of covering the news in Pakistan. I didn’t complain to my bosses. To do so would only make me seem weak. Instead, I made a joke out of it and turned the experience into a positive one: See, being a woman helped me gain access to the chief justice.

And really, I was lucky. A few gropes, a misplaced hand, an unwanted advance — those are easily dismissed. I knew other female correspondents who weren’t so lucky, those who were molested in their hotel rooms, or partly stripped by mobs. But I can’t ever remember sitting down with my female peers and talking about what had happened, except to make dark jokes, because such stories would make us seem different from the male correspondents, more vulnerable. I would never tell my bosses for fear that they might keep me at home the next time something major happened.

I was hardly alone in keeping quiet. The Committee to Protect Journalists may be able to say that 44 journalists from around the world [2] were killed last year because of their work, but the group doesn’t keep data [3] on sexual assault and rape. Most journalists just don’t report it.

The CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken that code of silence. She has covered some of the most dangerous stories in the world, and done a lot of brave things in her career. But her decision to go public earlier this week with her attack by a mob in Tahrir Square in Cairo was by far the bravest. Hospitalized for days, she is still recuperating from the attack, described by CBS as a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.

Several commentators have suggested [4] that Ms. Logan was somehow at fault: because she’s pretty; because she decided to go into the crowd; because she’s a war junkie. This wasn’t her fault. It was the mob’s fault. This attack also had nothing to do with Islam. Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. Female reporters sometimes are just convenient.

In the coming weeks, I fear that the conclusions drawn from Ms. Logan’s experience will be less reactionary but somehow darker, that there will be suggestions that female correspondents should not be sent into dangerous situations. It’s possible that bosses will make unconscious decisions to send men instead, just in case. Sure, men can be victims, too — on Wednesday a mob beat up a male ABC reporter in Bahrain [5], and a few male journalists have told of being sodomized by captors — but the publicity around Ms. Logan’s attack could make editors think, “Why take the risk?” That would be the wrong lesson. Women can cover the fighting just as well as men, depending on their courage.

More important, they also do a pretty good job of covering what it’s like to live in a war, not just die in one. Without female correspondents in war zones, the experiences of women there may be only a rumor.

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

There is an added benefit. Ms. Logan is a minor celebrity, one of the highest-profile women to acknowledge being sexually assaulted. Although she has reported from the front lines, the lesson she is now giving young women is probably her most profound: It’s not your fault. And there’s no shame in telling it like it is.

Please see the original at ProPublica

February 19, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Journalists, Pakistan, Rape, Safety and Security Issues, Sexual Assault | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

PMC and Sex Crimes

The crime that dare not speak its name…

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

On April 16 the Department of Defense Inspector General released a report that nobody has been talking about. Allow me to be the first. Perhaps we should subtitle it the crime that dare not speak its name, as it deals with a topic that most private military contractors (PMC) generally don’t talk about publicly.

The title of the report is “Efforts to Prevent Sexual Assault/Harassment Involving DOD Contractors During Contingency Operations.” .

My first thought is how is it that some contractors can’t seem to keep it in their pants? This is an issue that seems to keep happening over the years; from the days when DynCorp contractors were involved in a sex trafficking scandal in Bosnia when employees and supervisors engaged in sex with 12 to 15 year old children, and sold them to each other as slaves to the gang-rape of Jamie Leigh Jones a former KBR employee who claimed that seven KBR employees drugged and gang-raped her on July 28, 2005 at Camp Hope, Baghdad, Iraq.

For those who like to dismiss such things as isolated occurrences just head on over to the “Rape, Hazing, Discrimination & Harassment” section of Ms, Sparky’s blog and you will be promptly disabused of such a notion.

In fact the situation is serious enough that the sexual assault of employees of U.S. military contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan will be tracked by the Pentagon under a system it is setting up.

Evidently the fact that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) declares that sexual assault committed by the Armed Forces and DOD civilians and contractors accompanying Armed Forces in contingency operations is a criminal offense that is punishable by court-martial is not enough to keep assaults from happening.

The IG report reviewed contracts that support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom for language in clauses that address the prevention of sexual assault or harassment of or by contractor personnel. It also determined whether DOD and/or DOD contractors provided sexual assault/harassment prevention and response training to contractor employees prior to deployment.

What it found was:

That of the 10 DOD contractors reviewed, 8 did not have policies or training requirements for sexual assault prevention and response. This condition occurred because contractual requirements were not established to ensure that contractors were aware of DOD’s definition of sexual assault or that contractors should report sexual assault complaints to Military law enforcement during contingency operations. In addition, sexual assault prevention and response policy was not applied to contractors and contractors were not required to complete such training as part of theater-specific individual requirements training. The Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, and Air Force contracting officers did not provide adequate oversight of contractor deployment training for sexual assault prevention and response. This condition occurred because the Kellogg, Brown, and Root Services, Inc. Continental United States Replacement Center (CRC) and Fluor Corporation CRC operations were inappropriately approved, despite the contractors’ sexual assault awareness and reporting training not meeting the minimum
training requirements. Further, contractor employees were processed through pre-deployment sites without ensuring that sexual assault prevention and response training was completed.

One can’t help wondering what the world is coming to when men have to go through training to understand that no means no.

Indeed, the report found that most contractors had problems even defining sexual assault. The report noted:

We determined that 8 of 10 contractors reviewed did not establish an adequate corporate definition of sexual assault or promote awareness to contractor employees assigned to DOD projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, five contractors misclassified sexual assault, a violent felony, as an act of sexual harassment, a civil offense, which is reported internally within the companies instead of externally to Military law enforcement; one contractor developed a definition that was inconsistent with DOD’s definition and established internal company reporting procedures; and the remaining two contractors did not provide any definition of sexual assault. The remaining 2 of 10 contractors developed a definition of sexual assault that was consistent with DOD’s definition, but only 1 of the 2 contractors established external reporting to Military law enforcement.

Sexual assault is not just a problem for private contractors; it also is a problem for regular military forces. On February 5, 2004, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum, “Department of Defense Care for Victims of Sexual Assaults,” that expressed concern with the increasing numbers of reports alleging sexual assaults involving Service members deployed to Iraq and Kuwait and directed a review of how DOD handled the treatment and care for victims of sexual assault in theater. On February 10, 2004, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness [USD(P&R)] directed the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health, Protection, and Readiness to establish and lead a task force to review the reporting of sexual assaults and consider the necessity of training for Service members. In April 2004, the task force issued the “Task Force Report on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault,” which found that DOD did not have a policy or program aimed at preventing sexual assault, particularly in joint combat environments.

The companies that the report looked at were. AECOM; Environmental Chemical Corporation (ECC); Fluor Corporation (Fluor); ITT Corporation, Systems Division (ITT); Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc.(ITSI); Kellogg, Brown, and Root Services, Inc. (KBR); L-3 Communications; Parsons Corporation (Parsons); Readiness Management Support, LC (RMS); and Tetra Tech, Inc.

These ten contractors were selected based on the following criteria: U.S.-based companies; contracting actions awarded in FY 2006 and FY 2007; and combined FY 2006 and FY 2007 contracting actions equal to or exceeding $250 million.

As is often the case with PMC issues the government shares the blame for the problem. The report noted:

Although the 10 DOD contractors reviewed have policies and training requirements in place to comply with the intent of Equal Employment Opportunity laws regarding sexual harassment, the contractors did not establish similar policies and training requirements for sexual assault awareness, prevention, and reporting for DOD contractor employees. This occurred because the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics [USD(AT&L)] did not establish requirements in DOD contracts to ensure: • contractors are made aware of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) definition of sexual assault; and
• contractor employees report sexual assault complaints to Military law enforcement during contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness [USD(P&R)]:
• established sexual assault prevention, reporting, and response policies that excluded DOD contractors; and
• did not ensure that combatant commanders established minimum pre-deployment training requirements to include sexual assault prevention and response training for contractors who accompany U.S. Armed Forces in contingency operations.

As a result, contractor employees who were alleged victims or witnesses may not have known how to report sexual assault crimes to the appropriate Military law enforcement officials while in Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) areas of operation. Additionally, DOD contractors, a supporting component of the DOD total force, may have been unaware of the severity of sexual assault as a criminal offense under the UCMJ, thereby increasing the risk of sexual assault occurrences that threaten contractor productivity in support of DOD contingency operations.

In terms of policies the report found:

We determined that KBR and Parsons were the only two contractors that developed company policies for their employees that addressed sexual assault prevention and response, but that the KBR and Parsons policies were limited. The KBR sexual assault policy, issued in October 2007, applied to only KBR employees who supported the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) and excluded KBR employees performing work on other contracts supporting contingency operations; provided a definition of sexual assault that considered any nonconsensual sexual act or contact to be sexual assault; and established reporting procedures for its LOGCAP employees to report sexual assault crimes internally to KBR human resources representatives, employee relations representatives, its ethics hotline, or legal counsel, and did not mention local law enforcement. Parsons’ workplace violence policy prohibited physical assault, which included sexual assault; however, the Parsons’ policy was inadequate because it did not provide the defining elements of sexual assault. Additionally, the Parsons’ policy provided internal company reporting procedures for its employees to contact Parsons supervisors, security, and emergency hotline, and did not mention local law enforcement.

In terms of training the report found:

RMS and Fluor were the only two DOD contractors that developed and implemented sexual assault prevention and response training that classified sexual assault as a crime characterized by nonconsensual and threatening physical contact causing bodily harm, including rape. The RMS training module, implemented in June 2007, was the only sexual assault training that appropriately instructed employees to report sexual assault crimes to law enforcement authorities as well as to internal company management, human resources managers, and the RMS ethics hotline. However, the Fluor sexual assault prevention and response training, implemented in June 2009, inappropriately instructed employees to report sexual assault crimes internally to Fluor supervisors and managers.

The IG report recommends that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics develop contractual requirements to ensure that DOD contractors are aware of the DOD definition of sexual assault and require contractors to report sexual assaults to Military law enforcement.

Of course, there are many private military contractors working for places other than the Defense Department. One can’t fault the IG report for that; it can only address its own department. But one hopes that someone in government will ensure the recommendations apply government wide and not just to Pentagon contractors.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Rape, Sexual Assault | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment