Helena woman sues Interior Department over sexual assault
Last updated 10/26/2016 at 7:01pm
KALISPELL (AP) — A Helena woman who was sexually assaulted by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee while on a work trip has filed a lawsuit, saying she has been subject to retaliation and harassment in the workplace.
The woman filed a federal lawsuit on Oct. 18 against the Department of Interior, former co-worker Lawrence Lockard of Bigfork and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Lockard and two co-workers were in Glacier National Park for a SCUBA diving trip at Quartz Lake in September 2015. The woman said she awakened in a cabin to find Lockard in bed with her.
Lockard knew the woman had been drinking, that she had taken sleep medication and was wearing ear plugs when he climbed into her bed, touched her inappropriately and tried to remove her clothing, prosecutors said.
He was sentenced to six months in prison for abusive sexual contact and was ordered to pay her $22,000 in restitution.
The woman’s lawsuit said Lockard’s actions caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. It alleges the agency allowed Lockard to retire without consequences and failed to protect her from retaliation and harassment by other co-workers, creating a hostile work environment.
USFWS public affairs officer Gavin Shire declined to comment Tuesday, noting it is both a personnel issue and an ongoing lawsuit.
The woman’s claims come as the National Park Service — which also is part of the Department of Interior — is investigating widespread sexual misconduct within its ranks.