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What The Jamie Leigh Jones Verdict Says About Rape Culture

What The Jamie Leigh Jones Verdict Says About Rape Culture

This is one of those posts that I started, and stopped, and started all over again.  It’s a post that has to be written but one I could barely bring myself to write.

Jamie Leigh Jones lost her rape case against Charles Boartz and KBR.

It’s a tragic story and a stark reminder that for women, becoming sexual prey, and then later vilified for speaking out, is unfortunately just part of life.

Jones was working for the Iraq war contractor when she claimed she was drugged and then brutally gang-raped.  Jones blacked out, woke up bruised and bleeding and then when she reported the attack to her employer was locked in a shipping container and denied food and water for at least 24 hours.

The main attacker named in the complaint defended the case by saying the sex he had with Jones, while she was unconscious, was consensual.  And it was enough for a Houston jury to believe.

To beat the charges the defense did what the defense had to do: they went after Jones’ character.  They produced medical experts that testified that her injuries  “may” have been consistent with rape.  They introduced evidence that Jones had alleged rape before, that she had a book deal and that her success post-attack was inconsistent with someone who was claiming psychological injuries.

The defense was shooting for reasonable doubt.  Except there is one problem here.  Reasonable doubt is the standard in a criminal case and Jones’ claims were civil.  All the jury had to do was believe it was more likely than not that Jones was correct and then they were required to find for her.  Think of it as about 51% that Jones was telling the truth.

Instead, the jury found it was more likely than not that Jones consented to sex while unconscious.  The jury found it was more likely than not that Jones’ bleeding and fissured vagina and anus were the result of consensual sex that took place while she was unconscious and that it was more likely than not that, in short, Jones is a liar.

Make no mistake about it, Jones was punished in Texas.  She was punished for being a woman in the rough-and-tumble world of private defense contracting where consent to sex can happen while passed out and where employers have no duty to provide a safe work environment free from assault.  She was punished for being a woman who had the audacity to speak out against her treatment to Congress, to demand an investigation into private security contracting and to step forward as an example for other women.

You see, according to the folks in Houston, Jones had it coming.

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photo from apublic citizen via flickr.

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315 comments

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5:43PM PST on Nov 7, 2014

Her past was relevant because it was shown that she lied about her medical history to get her job, even though she had a history of needing anti-depressants and other psych meds.

Torn up "down there": medical documents shown from before she deployed that medications she was taking could directly cause injuries like she reported from normal sex.

Other history/credibility: A couple months before leaving overseas she had almost the exact same circumstance happen to her. She had a few drinks, may have had sex, but didn't remember any of it.

Now, the part of her story I praise is that she fought the Mandatory Arbitration Clause in her contract. That was something that was terrible to try and enforce in her kind of case. However, 2 different investigations and now a public trial by jury have ALL cited that KBR did nothing wrong in handling the actual complaint.

Her case was not a trial to pursue criminal charges against the man who 'raped' her, but to pursue damages against KBR for how they handled the case and she asserted that they knew what she was going into in advance.

This has been dis-proven. I admire this woman for the courage to pursue her Constitution

5:41PM PST on Nov 7, 2014

Wow, the way an author can take a case and turn the finding of a jury into a conspiracy is amazing. Especially when people eat it up like they have here.

Let's see if I can cover the points the author makes here. And yes, I know this is quite long after the story was printed.

Gang-rape: The rape kit showed one specimen of semen, not multiple.

Drugged: No trace of drugs were found. She admits she had several drinks, though.

Consented while unconscious: She never claimed to be unconscious, she said she blacked out. There is a difference, and people can still speak and function while in this state. Yes, it could constitute rape since she wasn't in her right mind, but the fact of the matter is that maybe she did consent, it is a she-said he-said case on that point.

Imprisoned without food/water: Dis-proven by reports from multiple sources, and thrown out by the judge since she never alleged it until 2 years after her initial claim of rape.

Rape charge itself: Witnesses say they saw her and the alleged man flirting and leaving together heading toward her barrack room. The next morning he was still there in bed waiting for her, not something a potential rapist is keen to do.

Character assassination: She claimed to be unable to function in a basic environment, unable to trust men, and unable to sleep. All while completing several degrees, getting married, having kids, working on a book deal, testifying before multiple Congressional panels. Her

12:42PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

I'm with David Y! And I wish I could somehow help her!

3:36PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

totally ridiculous.

11:46PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

Aren't you glad you don't live un Texas?!

6:46PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

I really hope she can take this to the Supreme Court. That this can happen in this century in this nation, makes me sick. The fact that it was done and supported by her employers, means that our government is permitting this behavior by people that basically, are employed by them, which is something that must not be allowed. It's sad that with all the progress we've made over the years, that our nation has been regressing to a land of injustice and prejudice. I was listening to some of my old music from the late sixties, and while listening to "Monster" by Steppenwolf, realized that the song is still valid, in fact, even more valid now, than it was forty years ago. This is not a good sign in the twenty-first century, in the "land of the free and home of the brave"...

4:22PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

Since we are getting only one side of the story there is nothing to compare it against. The article needs more details.

12:09PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

I see there's a troll. Please don't feed.

8:25AM PST on Nov 10, 2013

Poor woman. Damn Texas!

8:11AM PST on Nov 10, 2013

Stories like this make me feel ashamed to be human. How do you consent when you are unconscious?
A total fail in so many areas, the "justice" system is only one of them. and the sad tragedy is that is really is not surprising at all.
Will women (or any victim) ever be more than just some trivial thing not worth compassion, empathy, or consideration? I hope I live to see that day.

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