Former Provo lifeguard says she was raped after boss ignored concerns about attacker


The young woman still remembered exactly what his face looked like. But a year and a half later, the man she says raped her in the parking lot of a pool in Provo has yet to be arrested.

She was working as a lifeguard at the Provo Recreation Center at the time. She said that during her summer shift in 2020, a man repeatedly harassed her, so she reported him to her duty supervisor. But in a recent federal lawsuit filed against the city, she argued that nothing was done.

When she went to her car that night, the man forced himself into her car and sexually assaulted her, which she reported to the police.

The lawsuit alleges that the city’s failures led to her being assaulted on city property. She is seeking damages on four counts: employment discrimination/sexual harassment; irresponsible; negligent hiring and supervision; and negligence causes emotional distress.

The woman told The Salt Lake Tribune: “The right training will solve this problem. “I want better training in place, and I want Provo City to realize that they messed up, because right now, they’re acting like they didn’t do anything wrong.”

According to a statement from the city, “The safety of Provo City employees is of paramount importance to us, with protective procedures in place.”

The statement noted that officials have yet to receive the complaint, but that according to what has been reported to them, the details set forth in the complaint involve “several different points of view” from what is being said. from their own civil and criminal investigations.

“Once we have seen the specifics of the lawsuit, we will reopen the investigation to try to resolve those discrepancies,” the statement read.

‘I do not know what to do’

The woman said that the day she was attacked started like any other.

She always works closed shifts. At the indoor pool that day, her shift was from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“I didn’t notice this man until about an hour before closing,” the woman said. “I was about to leave the lifeguards room to turn my colleague around, and as soon as I left the room I had this uncomfortable feeling and I didn’t know what it was.”

As she sat on the lifeguard, she noticed the man staring at her. At first, she looked away, scanning the pool area for anyone who might need help. But the man is swimming, continued to stare, according to the lawsuit.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Provo Recreation Center on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

She said the man had repeatedly tried to strike up a conversation with her. The woman politely refused so she could focus on her work. When she switched stations after about 20 minutes, the woman told a colleague what was going on.

When she later switched stations with her colleague again, the colleague said the man had asked about the woman’s name, work schedule and other personal details, the lawsuit states.

“Obviously you feel scared for that man – he’s pissing me off,” the woman said. “Obviously, I thought, ‘Oh, I can report that to my superiors. He will be escorted out. ‘”

But when she told her watchman what was going on, the supervisor only told the woman to let her know if the man was bothering her again, the woman said. The man then began following the woman around the pool area as she switched lifeguards again, the lawsuit states.

At the time, he acted as if he was starting to drown to get the woman’s attention, the lawsuit alleges.

“When he realized that I wasn’t giving him his attention, that was when he said he was dreaming about me,” the woman said. “And again, I ignored him. And then I called my supervisor back a second time, and this is where she just said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do? I do not know what to do. ‘”

The woman said that if a child at the pool makes a similar complaint, protocol states that the police will be called in, a report will be filed and the man will be banned. But the lawsuit alleges that staff members were not adequately trained to deal with potentially dangerous customers when reported by other adults, the woman said.

The entertainment center closes at 10pm. All patrons had left the pool area, but about 10-15 other employees were still finishing closing work at the time, the woman said.

Then, as she walked to her car, she heard someone calling her name in the parking lot, she said. She turned around and saw someone wearing a blue Provo Recreation Center shirt, she said, and she thought it was a coworker.

But when he got closer, she realized it was the man from the pool, she said.

“He was trying to talk to me; I didn’t want to get into it, so I tried my best to get in my car,” she said. “Instead of using the press tool, I used my key to get in. So I got in, and when I was trying to lock the door, it was obvious I was nervous and scared. So instead of me pressing the lock button, I pressed the unlock button, because my hands were shaking. ”

According to the suit, the man then rushed straight into the woman’s car, closing the door behind. When she tried to get out of the vehicle, he grabbed her hand and pulled her inside, where he assaulted her, she said.

“Soon, he said ‘thank you’ and then he left. He got out of my car and left,” the woman said. “I left immediately, because I didn’t know what to do – I was trying to trick myself into thinking that wasn’t happening.”

‘It affects me in more ways than people think’

After being assaulted, this woman quit her job. She reported the assault to Provo police about two months later, just days after she told her parents.

To the best of her knowledge, police spoke to at least one employee of the aquatic center and attempted to obtain logs of all patrons who had visited the pool on the day she was assaulted. speak. She gave investigators a thorough description of her attacker. A Provo police spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that no one had been arrested in connection with the assault.

Erika Larsen, the woman’s attorney, said the woman is trying her best to heal and move on. The woman continued the lawsuit because she wanted to help protect future victims, Larsen said.

“A major driving factor here is to place the blame on the City of Provo,” says Larsen. “And one of the only ways that we can really do that in this system is to file a lawsuit, and so hopefully Provo will learn from this situation and enact policies and procedures for how to best handle a situation like this.”

The woman’s family has been supportive, she said, helping her get through her bad days and attesting to what she’s been through.

“It affects me in more ways than people think,” she said. Former Provo lifeguard says she was raped after boss ignored concerns about attacker

Yasmin Harisha

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