Ex KBR Iraq worker held on sexual assault charge

A KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root) sign adorns the Halliburton corporate headquarters near downtown Houston, December 12, 2003. REUTERS/Tim Johnson REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A former employee of military contractor KBR Inc has been arrested in Texas and charged with sexually assaulting a woman at an airbase in Iraq, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

According to a now-unsealed indictment from October 8, 2008, David Charles Breda Jr. is charged with assaulting the woman at Camp Al Asad while working as a civilian defense contractor for a subsidiary of Houston-based KBR, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas said in a statement.

The arrest follows the high-profile case of Jamie Leigh Jones, who has sued KBR and former parent Halliburton Co, alleging she was drugged and raped by fellow KBR employees in 2005 and accusing the companies of tolerating abusive behavior. No criminal charges have been filed in her case.

Breda, 34, appeared before a judge on Friday after his arrest by Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents on Thursday at a Houston-area barber college, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. He faces a up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge of abusive sexual contact, it added.

“KBR does not condone or tolerate illegal behavior. Each employee is expected to adhere to the company’s code of business conduct. When violations occur, action is taken,” a spokeswoman for the engineering and construction company said.

KBR’s conduct as a military contractor has been called into question by U.S. lawmakers as well as some investors. In May, KBR and Halliburton were sued by a pension fund accusing them of lack of oversight after a series of scandals that the fund says destroyed value.

Earlier this week, KBR lost out to rival companies in the award of two military contracts for Afghanistan.

Reporting by Braden Reddall, editing by Anthony Boadle