FAIRFAX, Va. — In a secluded stairwell at CIA headquarters last year, officer trainee Ashkan Bayatpour came up behind a colleague, wrapped a scarf around her neck and plainly spoke as he tried to kiss her on the mouth.
“There are many uses for this,” the woman recalls him saying. “This is what I want to do to you.”
Bayatpour was convicted Wednesday of a state misdemeanor charge of assault and battery in a case that 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, with dire warnings it could wreck their careers and even endanger national security.
“There are harassers everywhere and bosses that try to cover them up,” said Kristin Alden, a Washington attorney who represents some of the women who have filed complaints. “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.”
Details of Bayatpour's July 13, 2022, stairwell attack have not been previously…