Jane Turner was a highly decorated 25-year veteran of the FBI. She won awards for successfully investigating major crimes on the Forth Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. She was described by federal prosecutors as the leading FBI agent solving child crimes in the entire United States. After documenting a seriously botched child sex crime case committed by agents of the FBI, she was removed from her position.
Jane successfully fought her removal, winning a precedent setting case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her case was tried before federal jury. She was fully vindicated. The jury awarded Ms. Turner the maximum compensatory damages permitted under Title VII. The total recovery, costs, fees, and damages awarded exceeded $1.5 million. After the trial one of the jurors hugged Ms. Turner and told her, “I think you were the very best FBI agent.”
Turner also reported illegal theft by federal officials at the 9/11 World Trade Center crime scene. Her disclosures were backed-up by the DOJ Inspector General, and systemic reforms were approved. She again suffered retaliation, and again won her whistleblower case.
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Jane Turner led efforts to force the FBI to protect child sex crime victims on North Dakota Indian Reservations. In retaliation for exposing FBI failures within its child crime program, the FBI removed Ms. Turner from her position.
Ms. Turner was removed from her position in Minot after she disclosed serious FBI misconduct in its handling of child abuse cases. In one case, Ms. Turner vigorously complained that the FBI had improperly classified the brutal rape of a two year old Native American child as a “motor vehicle accident.” At the trial, government witnesses confirmed that Ms. Turner had successfully “dogged” the case for over one year and forced the government to re-open the prosecution. Her investigation led to a guilty plea by the rapist.
In a September 13, 2005 ruling, the US. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit unanimously upheld the right of Turner to obtain monetary damages and a jury trial against the FBI. In a historic victory for all FBI whistleblowers, the Court held that Ms. Turner set forth sufficient facts to justify a trial by a jury. The Court based its decision on evidence of the FBI’s retaliatory transfer of Ms. Turner. The FBI had moved her from an investigatory position in Minot, North Dakota, to a demeaning desk job in Minneapolis.
The FBI justified removing Turner based on her “performance.” But as the Court of Appeals noted, Ms. Turner’s law enforcement abilities were widely praised:
Federal agents, Native American reservation law enforcement personnel, and Assistant United States Attorneys who worked closely with Turner averred that she did not commit the specific procedural errors alleged [by the FBI], that historically her work was outstanding, and that her performance showed no decline during the [relevant time period].
After an almost ten-year battle, on February 5, 2007, she won a unanimous jury verdict in her favor. The jury awarded Ms. Turner the maximum compensatory damages permitted under Title VII. This award was the largest compensatory damage award permitted under the law for federal employees. The total recovery, costs, fees, and damages awarded exceeded $1.5 million.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune covered her trial, and reported the following after the jury vindicated Ms. Turner:
Federal jurors hugged former FBI agent Jane Turner. “I think you were the very best FBI Agent,” juror Mashima Dickens told Turner, who investigated child sex-abuse crimes. “Looking at the way you were treated, I just said you were screwed left and right,” Dickens said, tears rolling down her cheeks.”
Ms. Turner also exposed criminal theft of property at the 9/11 crime scene by a handful of FBI agents. The FBI harshly retaliated against her for reporting these violations to the Department of Justice Inspector General. Ms. Turner’s allegations led to an investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General. The IG Investigation Report found that there had been misconduct by FBI agents and led to new agency regulations preventing the taking of souvenirs from crime scenes.
After reporting the illegal theft at the World Trade Center 9/11 crime scene Ms. Turner was placed on administrative leave and recommended for removal. She filed a complaint under the Department of Justice FBI Whistleblower Protection Act, and won a second retaliation case. Her notice of removal was rescinded. After 25-years of stellar service on behalf of the American people, Ms. Turner retired from the FBI. She thereafter joined the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center.
“When I had to blow the whistle it was very very difficult. I was lucky I had my daughter and I was lucky I had Stephen Kohn in my life…Stephen Kohn dragged me across the finish line…he stayed with me, he kept me going…”
“Stephen Kohn: ‘the definitive expert'”
Jane Turner’s World Trade Center case was highlighted in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was cited to as a basis for Congress’ amending the FBI whistleblower law.
On February 27, 2007, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a letter urging then FBI Director Robert Mueller to discipline the supervisors responsible for retaliating against the former FBI Special Agent Jane Turner.
Senator Grassley’s letter stated:
“The high standards of the FBI do not allow for anything less than the truth. It’s time for the supervisors who retaliated against Jane Turner, and other whistleblowers for that matter, to be held accountable. This jury verdict is vindication for Agent Turner. She had the courage to stand up alone, in the face of resistance, and say what happened was wrong.”
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