Pentagon to track sexual assaults of contractor employees
By Kimberly Hefling
WASHINGTON -- 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.
The tracking will likely begin this year, Defense official Gail McGinn said in a memo to the Pentagon's Inspector General included in a report released Friday.
The IG evaluation was initiated by a request from congressional members concerned that not enough protections were offered to U.S. contracting employees assaulted in the war zones. One of the most high profile cases was that of a Texas woman, Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones has sued Halliburton Co. and its former subsidiary KBR, saying she was gang raped while working for KBR in Iraq in 2005.
The IG also recommended the Pentagon develop plans to provide immediate help following assaults on contractor employees, which McGinn also said the Pentagon was developing plans to do.
The IG noted it found anecdotal evidence that contractors who reported being assaulted received medical and other assistance from military personnel.
It said from 2005 to 2007, the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations conducted 25 sexual assault investigations involving contractor personnel in the two war zones.
In about a third of those cases, contractor company officials reported the assault to DOD officials, but in the remaining cases the alleged victim notified law enforcement directly or the report came from someone else, the IG said.
In the Jones case, the companies said her contract required claims against them be settled through arbitration. In September, an appeals court ruled Jones' claims can go to trial, and a trial date has been set in federal court in February 2011.
The Associated Press typically does not identify people alleging sexual assault, but Jones' face and name have been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.
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