Energy

National Park Service Has Another Case Of Sexual Harassment

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

New sexual harassment allegations are being brought against a law enforcement supervisor of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CHAT) in Georgia, a Department of the Interior (DOI) report revealed.

DOI investigators found that on two occasions an NPS law enforcement supervisor touched an employee, who was CHAT’s division chief, on her upper thigh and that this contact was unwelcome. The report found that the same supervisor has also been accused of inappropriately touching another NPS employee who was sent to CHAT from another park.

The division chief told investigators that another NPS employee had warned her the supervisor was “handsy and touchy” and might try to “make a move.” When interviewed by investigators, the supervisor denied that the incident occurred and gave what investigators call “vague, contradictory answers about the incidents involving the division chief.”

The report also found that when made aware of the accusations, the NPS superintendent of CHAT  failed to investigate or report them as required by DOI policy. The superintendent took no disciplinary action against the supervisor after learning of the incidents.

Investigators interviewed 10 other female employees at the park and two of them mentioned that the law enforcement supervisor made them feel uncomfortable at one point.

This case is the latest in a long line of sexual harassment cases in the Park Service. Three current NPS employees testified about their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse at parks like Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Cape Canaveral National Seashore before Congress in September.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that more than 20 claims of sexual harassment were made at Grand Canyon River District and Canaveral National Seashore. Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan B. Jarvis, fired no one.

NPS is implementing “a comprehensive plan to identify and stop harassment, educate our staff at all levels about their rights and responsibilities, and create a safe and respectful work environment for every employee,” spokesperson Jeremy Barnum told Fox News.

NPS owes $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance and other backlogged expenses, according to recent research that builds upon criticisms brought by lawmakers of President Barack Obama’s public lands agenda.

NPS needs to spend five times the amount it currently receives every year from Congress to fix its maintenance backlog, which is expected to grow each year, according to recent research from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). Part of NPS’s enormous backlog is caused by unnecessarily expanding operations before performing basic maintenance.

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