Back in February I wrote about KBR's atrocious conduct regarding the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, the then 20-year old former KBR/Halliburton worker, who says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad in late July 2005.
It was primarily because of Ms. Jones case that the fiscal 2010 Defense appropriations measure included a provision barring the Defense Department from entering into contracts with companies that restrict alleged sexual assault victims from taking legal action.
At the time that provision was being debated there were lots of comments by congressional defenders of KBR that such a measure was unnecessarily intrusive and burdensome and that there were already laws on the books to cover sex crimes.
But if anyone needs convincing that such a measure is necessary one has only to look at the case of Anna Mayo, a KBR worker reportedly raped at Joint Air Base Balad base in Iraq last November. Balad, known popularly as Camp Anaconda is one of the largest American military bases in Iraq and is formerly the largest Iraqi air base.
As an email from a military officer pointed out, "This is particularly disturbing in that it happened in broad daylight, to an employee sleeping in her CHU (Containerized Housing Unit-trailer) after pulling night shift duty, possibly assailed by a maintenance worker that might have had a key to the CHU.
According to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Houston last Wednesday, Anna Mayo was working at KBR's facility in Balad in November 2009 when she was assaulted by an unnamed rapist who worked for KBR. She charges that she was choked unconscious with a rope, beaten and raped. The suit seeks damages from Halliburton, KBR, and from KBR subsidiary Service Employees International Inc., the contractor that employed Mayo from 2008 to 2009.
In 2009, Tracy Barker won a $3 million judgment against KBR in arbitration over an alleged sexual assault in 2005 at a KBR-run camp in Iraq. The lawsuit filed by Jamie Leigh Jones alleging that she was gang-raped is still pending.
Attorney Todd Kelly, who filed the new complaint on behalf of Ms. Mayo and also represents Jones, said that up to 20 women have contacted his office alleging sexual harassment or assault while working for the contractor or at KBR installations overseas. "According to Kelly, "there does not appear to be any change in how KBR treats these victims or disciplines their employees." One wonders how many cases it takes before people realize these are not isolated incidents.
The complaint says the "Rapist is an individual who, on information and belief, was an employee of KBR working in ether billeting or maintenance at the Joint Air Base in Balad, Iraq." KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne said that the company takes Mayo's allegations very seriously, and that "a thorough investigation is underway," but that the alleged assailant in the case was not a KBR employee.
According to the complaint, Mayo was 26 when she signed a contract with Service Employees International Inc. (SEII) on October 31, 2008. Beginning Nov. 1, 2008, Mayo lived and worked at Joint Base, Balad, Iraq. She lived in a converted shipping container and worked the night shift at the base.
Unlike the case of Ms. Jones, where KBR's Heather Browne told ABC News in an email in 2009 that "at no time has Ms. Barker's claim of rape ever been confirmed", the fact that Ms. Mayo was attacked is not in dispute.
On Nov. 27, 2009, according to the complaint, she was awakened by a knock at about 10:30 a.m. She allowed a man into her room, believing that he was a maintenance department employee. The man left after a few minutes after allegedly claiming he had checked her bathroom. She reported his visit to the supervisor of the Operations and Maintenance Department, who told her that he was not supposed to have entered her room.
17. On November 30, 2009, without further warning, and while Anna was sleeping, the Rapist returned, broke into her room, and proceeded to beat her.
18. The door remained open as the Rapist attacked Anna, grabbing and ripping at her face. Anna tried to make it out of the open door, but the Rapist slammed it shut before she could escape. Anna fought with her attacker, which only caused him to fight harder. She tried to bite his hands through his dirty work gloves, which only caused him to bite her in return. She felt as though he was trying to rip her eyeballs out of their sockets and twist her lips off of her face. Eventually, the Rapist placed a rope around Anna's neck and tightened it until she lost consciousness. She thought she was dying.
19. When Anna awoke, she realized that she was face down in her bed being raped by the man from behind. When he finished, the Rapist walked into the bathroom, and Anna tried to crawl away. The Rapist caught her and beat her again. This time, he tied her hands behind her back with the rope. Anna begged for her life - begged him "just be my friend!" The Rapist then placed a clothing item over Anna's face and neck and strangled her again. She could barely breathe through the material, so he placed his fingers in her nose and mouth to prevent her from doing so. Anna again lost consciousness - this time feeling certain that he would not stop until she was dead.
20. She awoke again - to the sounds of the Rapist leaving her room. She put on her shoes and ran into the main row of billeting (Row 51). She saw two men, yelled for help, as the men turned she saw that they wore red lanyards around their necks, indicating that they were KBR employees, then she passed out again.
The lawsuit also names Halliburton, the contracting company that once owned KBR, as a defendant. At one time SEII, Mayo's employer, was a subsidiary of Halliburton. A spokeswoman for Halliburton said that when Halliburton spun off KBR in 2007, SEII was a subsidiary of KBR, and there is no current corporate relationship between Halliburton and SEII.
According to the complaint SEII is a Cayman Islands corporation doing business in the State of Texas with KBR, which failed to register with the Secretary of State in Texas as a company doing business in Texas. The complaint alleges that this corporation was set up as an off-shore tax shelter for Halliburton.
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