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Why Jamie Leigh Jones Lost Her KBR Rape Case

Her story of a brutal attack in Iraq sparked a national outcry—but how much of it is true?

| Thu Jul. 7, 2011 6:30 AM EDT

Roofies: Jones claims that she was dosed with the date rape drug Rohypnol, which she believed was slipped into her drink by one of the KBR firefighters she was partying with in the Green Zone. In one of her congressional appearances, Jones said a contractor handed her a mixed drink and that "I took two sips from the drink, and don't remember anything after that." She testified before Congress in 2009 that "[w]hen I awoke in my room the next morning, I was naked, I was sore, I was bruised, and I was bleeding. I was groggy and confused and didn't know why."

The Evidence: After reporting the alleged attack to a KBR co-worker, who drove Jones to the Army hospital at Camp Hope, she was examined by Dr. Jodi Schultz. Schultz took urine and blood samples, which tested negative for Rohypnol or any other date-rape drug. Jones' legal team has challenged the lab work, arguing that it was never done properly, and also hired an expert to testify that just because the lab tests didn't turn up the drugs doesn't mean they weren't there. But KBR has offered an alternate explanation for her memory loss: Jones was drunk.

There is no eyewitness testimony or other physical evidence in the case supporting the allegation that Jones was attacked by multiple people.

The company hired experts to comb through Jones' statements in investigative reports, psychological exams, media appearances, medical records, as well as depositions from witnesses in the trial, to ferret out inconsistencies. One of those experts, Dr. Thomas Kosten, a psychiatry professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, observes in his report that Jones acknowledged having up to five alcoholic beverages over three hours on the night in question. Noting that Jones weighed 120 pounds at the time, he concludes that booze could have caused her amnesia.

Gang rape: Jones claimed in her lawsuit as well as in congressional testimony that she was the "subject of a brutal sexual attack by several attackers."

The Evidence: There is no eyewitness testimony or other physical evidence in the case supporting the allegation that Jones was attacked by multiple people. A lab analysis of the rape kit shows DNA from a single man, firefighter Charles Boartz, the only person Jones has identified in her lawsuit as one of the assailants. (Boatz is no saint; since returning from Iraq, he has had run-ins with the law related to domestic violence.) Several witnesses have testified to seeing Bortz and Jones drinking, flirting, and heading to her barracks together the night of the alleged attack, and Bortz has testified that the sex was consensual. That testimony, along with the physical evidence, has reduced the case from a black-and-white national scandal to the gray area of a he-said she-said case of potential acquaintance rape. Todd Kelly, Jones' lawyer, told Mother Jones that while he and Jones believe she was raped by multiple assailants, that issue will not be presented to the jury. "Although it is clear that she was raped by at least one person, we don't have the evidence to prove she was gang raped," he says.

The shipping container: Jones has claimed that after reporting the alleged rape to her employers, KBR employees locked her in a shipping container, refused to let her call her family, and denied her food and water for at least 24 hours. She has said that she convinced one of the "gurkhas" guarding the door with machine guns to let her call her father, who in turn contacted Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and got her sprung from "prison."

The Evidence: KBR claims Jones was never imprisoned, and that she encountered no obstacles calling her family after seeking medical treatment. KBR also says that its employees, including security staff, don't carry guns. A 2006 investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) backs up KBR's story that the company placed Jones in a secure location before getting her home to Texas.

This set of disputed facts, however, will not really be hashed out by the jury. The judge threw out Jones' charges that the supposed imprisonment constituted "retaliation" by KBR for reporting the rape, because Jones never mentioned this accusation in her original legal filings with the EEOC. (Federal law requires a plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies with the EEOC before pursuing a sexual harassment claim in federal court.) The false-imprisonment allegation didn't surface until two years after Jones' original rape complaint, when Jones hired a new lawyer.

Disfigured breasts: Jones' civil lawsuit alleges that during the gang rape she was so severely beaten that her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles were torn, requiring extensive reconstructive surgery.

The Evidence: The Army's Dr. Schultz testified in her deposition that Jones didn't report any problems with her chest during the exam, and Schultz did not observe any implant leakage or rupture. Franklin Rose, a Houston plastic surgeon who reviewed the records from Jones' original breast implant surgery for KBR, found no evidence that the implants had ruptured. Witness lists submitted by the defendants indicate that Jones' surgeon was expected to testify that in September 2005 he told Jones that she did not have torn pectoral muscles or ruptured implants. Kelly, Jones' lawyer, takes responsibility for creating some confusion over anatomy. He says Jones suffered from a torn pectoral capsule, which held the implant, and that witnesses in the trial have indeed testified that she had such an injury and that it was caused by trauma.

"Torn up down there": Jones claims that on the morning after her attack, she woke up with no memory of the event but "found her body naked, severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn," according to her complaint filed in US District Court in Houston. Jones says Schultz "confirmed that I had been penetrated both vaginally and anally."

Evidence: According to expert reports in the court files, Dr. Schultz found some fissuring, redness, and irritation in the pertinent areas. Schultz also reported finding four small bruises on Jones, but she said in her deposition that Jones "had no medical findings that needed hospital treatment." She also noted that while "Jamie had physical findings, I can't tell you if they were consistent with rape."

KBR has introduced evidence in court that shortly before deploying to Iraq, Jones underwent medical treatments that would have made her skin vulnerable to trauma for several months and could have led to "fissuring" during sex.

All of these issues, and more, have created obstacles to Jones winning a favorable verdict. In a civil trial, the burden of proof is lower than in a criminal case—but, even so, it's not enough for Jones to prove that she was raped to prevail. She also has to prove that KBR was responsible for her injuries, and that she has measurable damages.

Jones has maintained that the attack in Iraq has rendered her agoraphobic, afraid to leave the house alone, unable to work, and unable to sleep. She has filed disability claims to this effect. As a result of these claims and her lawsuit, Jones has undergone extensive psychological evaluations. That paper trail contains several land mines.

Some of the conflicts are fairly obvious. At the same time Jones was telling therapists and psychiatrists that she was virtually disabled by post-traumatic stress disorder and could not work, leave the house, drive, or have meaningful relationships with men, she has completed three college degrees, including an MBA; gotten married; had two babies; worked as a teacher and now as a part-time college professor; testified repeatedly before Congress; gone on TV; appeared in a documentary; and started a foundation to support women working as contractors overseas. It's not the résumé of someone as paralyzed by trauma as Jones has claimed to various therapists and psychologists.

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