National Park Service employees who conduct trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon have been engaged in sexual misconduct and harassment for years, led by boatmen who try to “get laid as much as possible,” according to a new inspector general report.
Several members of the Grand Canyon National Park’s (GRCA) River District team, who take about 12 trips a year for research, monitoring programs, and clean up missions, have been accused of repeatedly propositioning fellow female employees and contractors for sex.
“The River District has a history of reported incidents of sexual harassment and hostile work environments against its employees,” the Department of Interior’s inspector general said in an audit released Tuesday. “Many of these incidents allegedly occurred during river trips.”
The report lists allegations of inappropriate behavior dating back to 2003, including a supervisor grabbing a female’s crotch, and drunken “twerking” parties during the river trips, which can last for weeks at a time.
Managers were also accused of not responding appropriately to complaints and having an attitude of “what happens on the river, stays on the river.”
A current boatman, who was described by a supervisor as a known “womanizer” who propositioned women during river trips, has never been disciplined. He was allegedly found lying next to a passed-out woman with his pants down. In another incident, he allegedly drunkenly yelled at a woman while wielding an axe.
“We found evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work environment in the GRCA River District,” the inspector general said. “In addition to the 13 original complainants, we identified 22 other individuals who reported experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment and hostile work environments while working in the River District.”
The investigation involved interviews with more than 80 potential victims, witnesses, and suspects, the inspector general said. The report focused on one boatman currently employed, two former boatmen, and a former supervisor.