The CIA this week fired a lady whose whistleblower account of being assaulted in a stairwell on the spy company’s headquarters prompted a flood of colleagues to come back ahead with their very own complaints of sexual misconduct. The lady’s lawyer known as the motion a brazen retaliation.
Whereas the CIA mentioned that accusation was “factually inaccurate,” it wouldn’t remark additional on the case and declined to elucidate why the 36-year-old didn’t make it by way of the company’s clandestine officer coaching program often called “the Farm” and, not like lots of her classmates, was not employed into one other job.
“To be clear, the CIA doesn’t tolerate sexual assault, sexual harassment or whistleblower retaliation,” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp informed the Related Press, including that the company makes use of “constant processes to make sure the honest and equal remedy of each officer going by way of coaching.”
The lady’s termination got here lower than six months after she filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the CIA retaliated towards her for reporting what she mentioned was a 2022 stairwell assault in Langley, Va., to regulation enforcement and testifying about it in a closed congressional listening to.
The lawsuit accused the company of giving her harsher efficiency evaluations and “slut shaming” her by improperly releasing her private info in the course of the state prosecution final 12 months of Ashkan Bayatpour, a then-fellow CIA trainee convicted of assaulting her with a shawl.
The lady’s lawyer, Kevin Carroll, informed the AP that the CIA has now “unlawfully ended a younger girl’s profession solely as a result of she had the ethical braveness, missing in her managers, to face up and be a witness about her sexual assault.”
“The company’s festering office sexual violence downside is now harming the retention of younger ladies who gained’t put up with it any longer,” Carroll mentioned.
The lady, who will not be being recognized as a result of the AP doesn’t typically determine victims of alleged sexual abuse, was credited with launching a reckoning, of types, on the CIA as a result of hers was the uncommon allegation of sexual misconduct on the secret spy company to make it right into a public courtroom.
An AP investigation discovered the case helped embolden at the least two dozen ladies to come back ahead to authorities and Congress within the final two years with their very own accounts on the CIA of sexual assaults, undesirable touching and what they contend is a marketing campaign to maintain them from talking out.
Their accusations ranged from lewd remarks about sexual fantasies at after-work joyful hours to a case during which a senior supervisor allegedly confirmed up at a subordinate’s home at evening with a firearm demanding intercourse. A number of the alleged incidents return years and occurred as officers have been on dangerous covert missions abroad, whereas others occurred at CIA headquarters.
A congressional inquiry and bipartisan requires a watchdog investigation prompted CIA Director William Burns final 12 months to enact reforms to streamline claims, help victims and extra shortly self-discipline these behind misconduct.
It stays unclear whether or not the lady’s firing will immediate additional motion. The workplaces of the 2 senators main the inquiry, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner and Florida Republican Marco Rubio, didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Carroll, the lady’s lawyer, mentioned she had been given protected whistleblower standing earlier than talking with Congress. However these accustomed to the Whistleblower Safety Act cautioned that such protections could be restricted, particularly on the CIA.
Tom Devine, a longtime whistleblower rights advocate who’s authorized director for the Authorities Accountability Challenge, mentioned CIA workers don’t have the identical rights as different federal workers due to nationwide safety issues.
“You may blow the whistle, however solely throughout the intel neighborhood,” Devine mentioned. “So when she went to the police, she was very a lot on her personal. It’s an obnoxious loophole.”
In her testimony to a Virginia decide final summer season, the lady recounted the second when Bayatpour allegedly tightened the headscarf round her neck and tried to kiss her towards her will.
“He made a face like he was attempting to essentially harm me,” she testified. “That face, that’s what stays with me to today. That’s the toughest half.”
Bayatpour acknowledged wrapping the headscarf across the girl within the stairwell however insisted his actions have been supposed in jest throughout a 40-minute stroll collectively. The incident, his lawyer mentioned, was “a joke that didn’t land the way in which it was supposed to land.”
Bayatpour, a 39-year-old Alabama native and former Navy intelligence officer, remained employed on the CIA for a number of months after he was convicted in August of misdemeanor assault and battery, sentenced to 6 months probation and ordered to give up any firearms.
However as of final month, he now not works for the CIA, in line with an individual accustomed to the scenario who wasn’t licensed to debate the matter and spoke on situation of anonymity.
Bayatpour deferred inquiries to his lawyer, Jennifer Steeve, who mentioned her shopper has maintained his innocence and is interesting his conviction, which permits him a jury trial.