Men working in Grand Canyon National Park were able to sexually harass women for years with near impunity while those women were punished on separate matters when they came forward, according to a new report. The report says men used weekslong rafting or boating trips to harass female co-workers, either by pressuring them for sex, touching them inappropriately or through inappropriate comments.
The report says the men were rarely punished for their actions and not identified, according to the Hill, and that the issue wasn’t acted on until 13 women who were targeted wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in 2014. Those 13 complainants were followed by another 22 people who indicated they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while at work in the park. Complaints that were handed up to superiors were not properly investigated afterward, according to the report.
About a dozen individuals have been disciplined for sexual misconduct in the area since 2003, with penalties ranging from reprimands to terminations, according to CBS News. In the report, one human resources officer described the on-river culture as one of “laissez-faire,” or something more akin to that of Las Vegas in that “what happens on the river stays on the river.”
Incidents mentioned in the report range from a staff member taking up-skirt photographs of a fellow employee to a supervisor grabbing the crotch of an employee and employees twerking during dance parties as river trips were wrapping up. One male trip leader was also accused of taking advantage of an intoxicated woman while camping one night.
“This is another appalling example of how the current civil service system allows the wrong people to be insulated and protected,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in a statement. “Supervisors and managers are failing in their management responsibilities and they should be removed.”
The Office of Inspector General said other parks had not been investigated for sexual harassment charges.