UNITED STATES NEWS

Takeaways of AP report on sexual misconduct at the CIA

Aug 24, 2023, 11:06 AM

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A CIA officer trainee was convicted this week in Virginia of attacking a female colleague with a scarf and kissing her inside a stairwell at the agency’s headquarters in Langley.

The previously unreported criminal case against Ashkan Bayatpour was remarkable for breaking through the CIA’s veil of ultra-secrecy and playing out in a public courtroom where it has emboldened a sexual misconduct reckoning.

At least two-dozen women have come forward in recent months with their own complaints of abusive treatment within the CIA, telling authorities and Congress not only about sexual assaults, unwanted touching and coercion but of what they contend is a campaign by the spy agency to keep them from speaking out.

Here are the key takeaways from the AP investigation:

STAIRWELL SCARE

Bayatpour was accused of coming up from behind a colleague, wrapping a scarf around her neck and speaking plainly as he tried to kiss her on the mouth.

“There are many uses for this,” the woman recalled him saying. “This is what I want to do to you.”

The woman told investigators she shouted for Bayatpour to stop, but when she attempted to flee, 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.

He messaged her later: “You good?”

The 39-year-old Alabama native and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer has remained on the job for more than a year since the woman reported the July 13, 2022, assault to the CIA and nine months since she reported it to the FBI and local law enforcement.

In Wednesday’s trial in northern Virginia, an attorney for Bayatpour acknowledged he wrapped the scarf around woman in the stairwell but insisted his actions were intended in jest during a 40-minute walk. The incident, he said, was “a joke that didn’t land the way it was intended to land.”

Fairfax General District Court Judge Dipti Pidikiti-Smith found Bayatpour guilty of a state misdemeanor charge of assault and battery, and sentenced him to six months’ probation.

FLOOD OF COMPLAINTS

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.

Congressional aides told the AP they have interviewed or had contact with at least two-dozen women CIA employees this year. They described misconduct ranging from lewd remarks about sexual fantasies at after-work happy hours to a case in which a senior manager showed up at a subordinate’s house at night with a firearm demanding sex.

An attorney for some of the women says one claims she was given alcohol on her first day at a new posting and then sexually assaulted by the most senior official. Another contends her supervisor told her on her first day of work that they were “soulmates” and followed up with text messages suggesting sexual trysts.

Washington attorney Kevin Byrnes said many of the women were told they could not identify their attackers, go to law enforcement or even speak to family members about their claims due to national security concerns or the risk of divulging unspecified classified information.

“The CIA apparently believes that it is not subject to federal law,” he said.

WHAT IS CONGRESS DOING?

The top Democrat and Republican overseeing the CIA, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have called for a watchdog investigation and are considering hearings into why the agency has failed women in their ranks for so long. Since 2018, out of 290 total employment-related complaints, the agency has substantiated just a single case based on sex.

“Sexual harassment and sexual assault are unacceptable in any workplace,” Warner told the AP. “The Senate Intelligence Committee will continue to be watching this closely.”

WHAT DOES CIA SAY?

The CIA wouldn’t comment on Bayatpour’s case or even confirm his CIA affiliation. However, in May, it announced a series of reforms to streamline claims, support victims and more quickly discipline those behind misconduct.

That includes hiring a psychologist steeped in victim advocacy to lead the agency’s fledgling Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and replacing the leadership of the CIA office where many of the women say they were discouraged from making complaints.

“Our officers deserve no less than our laser sharp focus on ensuring they have a safe and secure work environment,” said CIA spokeswoman Tammy Kupperman Thorp.

United States News

Associated Press

North Carolina judges consider if lawsuit claiming right to ‘fair’ elections can continue

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina judges deciding whether a redistricting lawsuit claiming a state constitutional right to “fair” elections can go to trial questioned Thursday their ability to scrutinize district boundaries that way or to define what “fair” means. A panel of three trial judges listened to arguments on a motion by Republican legislative […]

9 minutes ago

Associated Press

UN adopts a resolution demanding that Sudan’s paramilitary force halt its siege of a Darfur city

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Thursday demanding that Sudan’s paramilitary force halt its siege of the only capital in the vast western region of Darfur that it doesn’t control where more than a million people are reportedly trapped. The resolution, which was approved by a vote of 14-0 with […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Sen. John Fetterman was at fault in car accident and seen going ‘high rate of speed,’ police say

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman was seen driving at a “high rate of speed” on Sunday morning just before he rear-ended another car on Interstate 70 in Maryland, according to a state police report. The police report said Fetterman was at fault in the crash. Both cars were towed and Fetterman, his […]

3 hours ago

Split panel image with Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke seen in a screenshot providin...

Kevin Stone

DOJ investigation of Phoenix Police Department finds civil rights violations, dysfunction

A yearslong U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Phoenix Police Department found patterns of egregious civil rights violations, officials announced Thursday.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Southern Poverty Law Center lays off employees amid restructuring

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal and advocacy group, is laying off more than 60 employees, the union representing workers said Thursday. The Southern Poverty Law Center did not confirm the number but issued a statement saying the organization “is undergoing an organizational restructuring” that resulted in staff reductions. The […]

3 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Takeaways of AP report on sexual misconduct at the CIA