CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Woman is suing Provo City for negligence

Dec 30, 2021, 6:07 PM | Updated: 7:36 pm
FILE -- A Provo City employee is suing for negligence after supervisor failed to respond to harassm...
Provo City Council Chambers | Provo City

PROVO, UT — A former Provo City employee is suing Provo City for negligence and sexual harassment, saying a man raped her after she repeatedly reported him to her supervisor. 

According to lawsuit documents, the woman was on-duty as a lifeguard at the Provo City Pool in July 2020 when a patron started making unwanted advances and harassing her. She said he was staring at her and repeatedly tried to talk to her.

The woman told her co-worker about the man and later her co-worker said the man “relentlessly” asked the co-worker questions about the woman—including her age, name, school, and work schedule. 

After this, the woman blew her whistle twice, which is a signal she needed a supervisor’s help. She told a supervisor about the man and what he had been doing. The lawsuit says her supervisor responded “she did not know what to do” and did not help. 

The man continued to follow the woman throughout the day and stare at her. He told her he was “fantasizing” about her and pretended to drown to get her attention. The woman, again, alerted her supervisor by blowing her whistle twice. Lawsuit documents say the supervisor offered to stay by the woman for a few minutes until her next rotation.

After the pool supervisors went home around 8 p.m., the woman stayed with a few other employees until the pool closed. As she was walking to her car after her shift, she noticed a man walking towards her. She didn’t realize it was the same man until he got closer. 

She said the man forced his way into her car, where he raped and assaulted her. Erika Larsen, one of the woman’s lawyers, said the woman reported the assault to the police. However, there are no surveillance cameras in the parking lot where she was assaulted and the police were not able to identify the man. 

She is suing the city on four counts: sexual harassment, negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

“Our whole goal in this situation is really to try to make some change happen. We want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Larsen said. “And to hold Provo City accountable so that change can get made so people are a little more protected.”

A message to a Provo public information officer seeking comment was not returned on Thursday.

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Woman is suing Provo City for negligence