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Nelson still in dark over rapes in Iraq
American women have accused contractors.
By JUSTIN GEORGE, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008
Sen. Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has expressed concern that the allegations are being ignored.
Sen. Bill Nelson said the Pentagon and State Department won't tell him how many rape cases exist involving employees of contractors in Iraq.
"Neither agency has given us an adequate response to date," said Bryan Gulley, Nelson's spokesman.
The requests for information were made in mid December after two American women said they were raped by co-workers in Iraq in 2005. Both women were working for Army contractors, and one is from Tampa.
Nelson, a Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has expressed concern that the allegations are being ignored.
The Tampa woman alleges she was sexually assaulted by a drunken male colleague while working in Ramadi, Iraq, in June 2005 for KBR Inc. subsidiary Service Employees International Inc.
Nelson has said the Navy Criminal Investigative Service turned its findings over to the Justice Department, but nothing has come of the matter. The woman sued KBR, claiming the company failed to protect her from foreseeable harm.
Her attorney, John J. Spiegel of Miami, did not return a call Tuesday.
In the other case, Jamie Leigh Jones, a Houston woman, said she was raped and held against her will for a day by co-workers in Iraq while working for KBR in July 2005.
She testified before Congress Dec. 19. Her attorney and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, said last month that 13 women had come forward with similar cases.
A military doctor who examined Jones also told her that he had performed a number of rape examinations, Gulley said, prompting Nelson's questions as to how widespread sexual assault could be in Iraq.
He has asked the Defense Department to investigate both women's cases and to tell him how many rape exams military doctors have performed. He also asked the State Department how many allegations of sexual assault have been referred to its Diplomatic Security Bureau and how many have been investigated.
In a letter Monday, a State Department official said the Security Bureau investigated the cases and forwarded its results to the Justice Department without recommendations. On Thursday, the Defense Department's Inspector General's Office wrote Nelson saying the Justice Department has taken over Jones' case and that it had requested information to answer Nelson's other questions.
"We will provide you the results as soon as possible," John R. Crane, an assistant inspector general, said in the letter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at 813 226-3368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.