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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