LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A former top saleswoman for a Van Nuys-based aviation firm alleged that she was stalked on business trips by an FBI agent/client who warned her she would be unable to provide for her special-needs son if she resisted him and lost his account.
Doreen Olson Mackey testified on Tuesday, Jan. 12, that her employer, Helinet Aviation Services LLC, did little to help her resist the advances of agent Victor Grant and that she was ultimately laid off, even though she generated millions of dollars in sales for the company.
Fighting back tears, the divorced mother of two sons said she has searched for more than three years for a steady job that would help provide for her family the way she used to.
“I was devastated,” Mackey told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing her sexual harassment suit against Helinet. “I ended up getting pretty depressed. I felt worthless.”
Mackey said she has made at most about $1,300 the last seven months and that she can no longer pay for tutoring services for her special-needs son, Noah, causing his IQ to drop.
“There are days you wonder why you are even here,” Mackey testified. “How can you be a mom to your kids when you can’t even buy them a loaf of bread?”
Helinet was founded by pilot Alan Purwin, who died in a Sept. 11 plane crash in Colombia during shooting of the upcoming Tom Cruise film “Mena.” Helinet provides helicopter services to a variety of clients such as celebrities, filmmakers, television stations and law enforcement, including local agencies as well as the FBI.
Mackey testified she joined Helinet in 2010 and that her contact while handling the FBI account was Grant, the unit chief of the FBI’s hostage and rescue team. She said Grant helped her get the job after speaking with Helinet executives at a trade show.
Mackey said she dated Grant before she worked at Helinet, but that she ended the relationship after she found out by accident that he was still married. But Grant persisted in pursuing Mackey and used his access to an FBI data base to track her flights on business trips, she said.
She said he also wanted to make her an FBI “source,” which would have enabled him to know of her whereabouts and doings 24 hours a day.
“Anything to do with my life, he had to know about it,” Mackey said.
Mackey said her Helinet bosses seemed unconcerned because the FBI account brought in so much revenue.
“I got very upset and started to cry,” Mackey said. “They said, ‘It’s OK, everything would be fine, don’t worry about it.’”
She said she begged her supervisors to take her off the FBI account, but they warned her that would mean losing lucrative commissions.
“Then take the commissions, I don’t want to deal with this anymore,” Mackey said she told her bosses.
Grant warned Mackey that if she left the FBI account, she would ultimately lose her job and that, in turn, would make it more difficult for her to afford tutoring for her special-needs son, the plaintiff said.
“He always used Noah because he knew he was so important to me,” Mackey said.
Mackey said Helinet management directed her to meet with Grant during another trip to Washington. She said he used obscene language while accusing her of being romantically involved with another man.
Grant grabbed her by the neck, touched her inappropriately and exposed himself to her while demanding that she perform a sexual act, she testified.
“I told him I wasn’t going to do that,” Mackey testified.
On another occasion, Grant called her 37 times within a few hours, unhappy because she was refusing to return his calls, she said.
Mackey said her Helinet bosses finally relented and she was taken off the FBI account in September 2012. But she said her travel opportunities were sharply cut back, preventing her from meeting with other clients.
Mackey said she was fired two months later.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I made my numbers. All I wanted to do was be taken off the FBI account.”
Mackey said she worked for a time stacking shelves at a Target store and has applied for as many as 400 jobs, some of them with clients she generated while working at Helinet and elsewhere. However, she said she has only landed about six or seven interviews.
She said she now works on a commissions-only basis for Surefire Flashlights.
Defense attorney Tracey Kennedy told jurors during her opening statement that Mackey’s case was about “secrets and lies.” She said Mackey never told her Helinet bosses about her previous romantic relationship with Grant. She also never said anything about sexual misconduct by Grant toward her, Kennedy
Helinet acted quickly when Mackey complained and the FBI agent was told to stay away from her, Kennedy said. Emails show that Mackey was pleased with Helinet’s actions, according to Kennedy.
Mackey sued Helinet in August 2013. Grant and the FBI are not defendants in the case.