At least two dozen women have come forward with complaints of sexual abuse at the CIA, with many alleging that the nation’s top spy agency has engaged in a campaign to prevent them from speaking out.
This week a CIA officer trainee who forced himself on a female colleague in a secluded stairwell was convicted in a Virginia court, an incident that led to more women who experienced similar treatment coming forward, a major public relations problem for yet another one of America’s toxic federal institutions.
Last July, Ashkan Bayatpour came up behind a fellow trainee in the stairwell at the agency’s Langley, Virginia headquarters, wrapped a scarf around her neck, and attempted to kiss her on the mouth against her will.
“There are many uses for this,” he said, according to the woman who was assaulted. “This is what I want to do to you.”
She said that she shouted for him to stop and attempted to get away before he “tried a second time to wrap a winter scarf around her neck before grabbing her arm, pulling her toward him and kissing her cheek,” according to the Associated Press which conducted an investigation into sexual abuse at the agency.
(Screenshot: Central Intelligence Agency)
Other women who have since reported similar incidents have told investigators and Congress that there has been a campaign by the CIA to prevent them from speaking out about the abuse,
“There are harassers everywhere and bosses that try to cover them up,” said a Washington, D.C. attorney who is representing some of the women who have filed complaints over their experiences.
“But the whole nature of intelligence work — the culture of secrecy and people working under assumed names — really elevates the chilling effect of retaliation and isolation that victims feel,” Kristin Alden said.
“The CIA tried to prevent her truthful cooperation with law enforcement, but she was too honest and tough,” said Kevin Carroll, an attorney for Bayatpour’s victim. “The Agency needs to begin to help, and not continue to hinder, its many sex assault victims who are now seeking justice through the legal system.”
“CIA also needs to root out violent sexual predators from the Agency, who are counterintelligence threats to the United States, because they can be blackmailed by adversary foreign security services based their gross criminal misconduct,” he told the Daily Mail.
Bayatpour was convicted of a state misdemeanor of assault and battery and sentenced to six months probation by Fairfax General District Court Judge Dipti Pidikiti-Smith. He was also ordered to surrender any firearms in his possession.
Several of the victim’s coworkers attended the 39-year-old Alabama native and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer who has been allowed to remain on the job.
“This guilty verdict came despite and not because of the CIA,” Carroll said. “It is a gigantic problem that the agency has not yet begun to get its arms around,” he added. “It’s an environment where a lot of stuff is secret, and that attracts some bad actors.”
“Complaints to the CIA’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity about sexual harassment and discrimination this year have already doubled last year’s total, detailing 76 separate incidents,” AP reported.
Additional cases include “a female contractor who alleged she endured a ‘cycle of pressure and manipulation’ by a CIA manager who gave her unsolicited gifts, harassed her by email and threatened to expose their relationship to her partner,” according to the outlet.
In another case, “a female employee said that ‘one of her co-workers repeatedly discussed bondage, sent her nude photos of women and threatened to get her security credentials revoked unless she had sex with him. Among the unwanted advances was an attempt at work by the co-worker to ‘ airplane feed her pasta, which he spilled on her and then offered to clean up from the front of her shirt in an attempt to feel her breast.”
The sexual abuse problem isn’t limited to the CIA. In 2020, an Associated Press investigation found multiple sexual misconduct incidents among top brass at the FBI, an agency that has devolved into the Democratic Party’s secret police.
“Our officers deserve no less than our laser sharp focus on ensuring they have a safe and secure work environment,” CIA spokeswoman Tammy Kupperman Thorp said, according to AP.
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