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Olivia yelled, kicked, screamed, but his knees pushed down harder and his tight grip held her wrists above her head. It’s a 120-degree evening in July, and three fans blow full-blast, scattering notes and magazines.Olivia, who just got off work, is still wearing her Park Service uniform.
The park did agree to transfer the man to another dorm, but it took nearly a week for supervisors to act, and on the day he was supposed to leave, she found him in the dorm kitchen, eating cereal. When he finally did move, it was to the dorm across the parking lot. I’m glad to hear [Olivia] is getting back into a better frame of mind, but I hope [she] is not creating an uncomfortable environment for [him] if it is not warranted.I have interviewed many of them and others, in total at least 50 people—from park rangers and scientists, to superintendents and a former Park Service director—ranging in age from 23 to 70.Their testimony reveals an agency that has failed to protect its workers from sexual misconduct.When they arrived, rather than just dropping her off, the young man invited himself in.Uncomfortable being alone with him, she said she was sleepy and feigned a yawn. He moved towards her, attempting to flirt, she thought, and suddenly started tickling her.Several factors contribute to this: a murky internal process for reporting and investigating complaints; a longstanding culture of machismo that dates to the agency’s foundation; and a history of retaliation against those who speak out.* * *Olivia’s assailant sat on top of her for about 20 minutes. He followed, trying to kiss her and pull her on top of him.
She was sure he would rape her, but eventually, after more struggle, he left.
A sharp-tongued, witty young woman with cascading brown hair, Olivia packed up and drove 2,200 miles from home to one of the nation’s driest and most desolate national parks.
One evening, about three weeks in, she asked her 21-year-old housemate, who also worked for the National Park Service, for a ride to a coworker’s house several miles up the desert road, where she was housesitting for the weekend.
But the experience taught her to mistrust the system.“They really have no reporting mechanism,” she says.
“They say, ‘Talk to your supervisor.’ What if your supervisor fails you?
Days later, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request, Olivia’s supervisor emailed the chief of interpretation to tell him another intern had concerns about the same young man. Something to watch out for.”The chief of interpretation encouraged her to keep quiet about the incident. She finished her internship, graduated from college and started working in other parks.