The CIA this week terminated a woman whose whistleblower account of being assaulted in a stairwell at the spy agency’s headquarters prompted a flood of colleagues to come forward with their own complaints of sexual misconduct. The woman’s attorney called the action a brazen retaliation.
While the CIA said that accusation was “factually inaccurate,” it wouldn’t comment further on the case and declined to explain why the 36-year-old did not make it through the agency’s clandestine officer training program known as “the Farm” and, unlike many of her classmates, was not hired into another job.
“To be clear, the CIA does not tolerate sexual assault, sexual harassment or whistleblower retaliation,” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp told The Associated Press, adding the agency uses “consistent processes to ensure the fair and equal treatment of every officer going through training.”
The woman’s termination came less than six months after she filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the CIA retaliated against her for reporting what she said was a 2022 stairwell assault in Langley, Virginia, to law enforcement and testifying about it in a closed congressional hearing.
The lawsuit accused the agency of giving her harsher performance reviews and “slut shaming” her by improperly releasing her personal information during the state prosecution last year of Ashkan Bayatpour, a then-fellow CIA trainee convicted of assaulting her with a scarf.
The woman’s attorney, Kevin Carroll, told the AP that the CIA has now “unlawfully ended a young woman’s career only because she had the moral courage, lacking in her managers, to stand up and be a witness about her sexual assault.”
“The agency’s festering workplace sexual violence problem,” Carroll said, “is now harming the retention of young women who won’t put up with it any longer.”