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Fri, Sept. 18

Inspector General investigates sexual harassment at Canyon

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Officials at Grand Canyon National Park and the National Park Service tested the agency’s new sexual harassment policies late last year, with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigating claims that a manager harassed an intern working at the park.

In a report released Jan. 23, the OIG confirmed that its investigation substantiated claims that the manager sexually harassed the intern.

According to the report, the manager was the intern’s supervisor and pursued a relationship with her for several months. The intern initially told the manager she did not want to get involved with him, but she eventually agreed to go out with him on one occasion.

The intern said she did not go out with the manager again, but she and the manager continued to communicate through text messages until she ended the personal communication about two months later. Despite her objections, the manager continued to pursue a relationship with the her, sending her unwelcome text messages. The intern further alleged the manager touched her inappropriately while at work after she stopped the personal communication. The manager admitted to sending the unwelcome messages but said he did not recall touching the intern at work.  

The manager resigned from NPS in October, about a month after the OIG interviewed him as part of the investigation.  

The investigation also found that NPS officials responded to the allegations in accordance with DOI and NPS policy after the intern reported the sexual harassment.

Superintendent Christine Lehnertz, who has focused on healing the Grand Canyon community after a sexual harassment scandal that led to the resignations of former superintendent David Uberuaga and deputy superintendent Diane Chalfant, said the park is building better systems to support victims during and after the investigations.

“While the NPS works toward our new approach to prevent harassment in the workplace, and address it quickly if it does happen, we are also building better systems to support the victims of sexual harassment. These experiences are life and career changing, and we want to help our employees get through them with the support and resources that they deserve,” she said.

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