| Former US soldier Jessica Lynch during an interview with ABC television’s Diane Sawyer. (Reuters)
Jessica Lynch, the US soldier taken prisoner during the Iraq war and rescued in a highly publicised operation, was raped by her captors, her authorised biography reveals.
The young private has no memories of the assault, which took place in the hours after her convoy was ambushed near Nasiriyah in March, the book says.
But a medical examination cited in I Am a Soldier Too: the Jessica Lynch Story, published next week, indicates that the 20-year-old from West Virginia was sexually assaulted during her captivity.
“The records do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage, or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into splinters until she was almost dead,” it says.
Her rescue, which briefly overshadowed the military advance on Baghdad, was later subjected to intense scrutiny amid accusations that the Pentagon had enhanced its description of the mission for dramatic effect. Initial reports sanctioned by the Pentagon suggested that Lynch had heroically resisted capture, emptying her rifle’s magazine in a fierce exchange of gunfire.
In the book she admits that the weapon jammed. “I didn’t kill nobody,” she says. “America’s most famous GI”, as the ex-soldier has been described, is now the focus of a huge publicity campaign featuring her first interview and a made-for-TV film, Saving Jessica Lynch.
The biography arrives in the shops next Tuesday, Veterans’ Day, but the disclosure that she was raped leaked out yesterday after a New York tabloid obtained a copy of the book before its release.
Diane Sawyer, the ABC journalist who conducted the interview, to be shown next Tuesday, confirmed the existence of the medical records suggesting that the soldier was raped.
She has talked to Lynch and to her parents about the book’s mention of the assault “and they told me it was a decision to tell the reality, not selective parts of a story of going to war”, she said.
The publishers chose the Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg to write the biography.
The book also throws doubt on the account of Lynch’s experiences by Mohammed al-Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer credited with helping to free her.
Lynch contradicts his claim that she was slapped by a member of Saddam Hussein’s fedayeen as she lay in her hospital bed, a beating, the lawyer says in his recently published book, that he witnessed.