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Park Service Perverts Groped Female Colleagues, Got Wrist Slaps

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Grand Canyon District National Parks Service male staffers withheld food from female coworkers who declined their sexual advances, groped them, and took photos under their dresses, according to a new Department of Interior Office of Inspector General report.

Park Service managers rarely disciplined the offenders, despite a “long-term pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work environment” over the last 13 years, the IG said. When offenders were disciplined, they received suspensions varying from five to 30 days.

Grand Canyon River District supervisors often failed to investigate or report the incidents, and senior local Park Service managers compromised the privacy of alleged victims by circulating internals emails containing their names and complaints to too many staff members. Park Service officials in New Mexico also hired a former Grand Canyon district employee who resigned amid sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

“This is another appalling example of how the current civil service system allows the wrong people to be insulated and protected,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman [crscore]Jason Chaffetz[/crscore], a Utah Republican, said in a statement. “Supervisors and managers are failing in their management responsibilities and they should be removed. The culture of overlooking and even rewarding bad behavior is inexcusable.”

The IG report refers to the alleged offenders only as “Boatman 1,” Boatman 2,” “Boatman 3” and “Supervisor 1.” Most of the alleged sexual misconduct happened on GRCA’s open-to-the-public river trips, which happen about 12 times a year.

Boatmen 1 and 2 and Supervisor 1 were allowed to retire or resign from the Park Service by the time the IG conducted its investigation. But Boatman 3 continues to work for the Park Service.

Thirteen former and current GRCA district workers asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for an investigation of sexual misconduct in September 2014, alleging “discrimination, retaliation and a sexually hostile work environment.” Investigators found 22 additional people during their investigation who said they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or misconduct by Park Service staff.

The IG issued two reports on top of the sexual misconduct report — one on GRCA management compromising the privacy of sexual harassment complainants, and another on NPS staff in New Mexico hiring a GRCA employee who left amid sexual harassment and misconduct complaints.

Diane Chalfant, GRCA deputy superintendent and one of the few people the IG named in its reports, forwarded sexual misconduct allegations with accusers’ names to an unnamed GRCA chief ranger and a supervisory ranger, saying she thought those were “public documents.”

“NPS must respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals who report sexual harassment by not revealing their identities to others who do not have a legitimate, work-related need to know them,” the IG said.

The Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, hired an unnamed employee who resigned from GRCA in 2006 after being disciplined for repeated acts of sexual harassment and misconduct during river trips, the IG said. The man was also allowed to return to GRCA as a volunteer in 2010.

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