CENTRAL PARK — A woman who said she was groped by a fellow swimmer in Central Park's Lasker Pool last week said instead of taking down her complaint, a city lifeguard and her fellow swimmers called her racist and "hysterical" for reporting the incident.
Shuchi Vyas, 33, was swimming in the Olympic-size Lasker Pool with about 30 other people when a man in a wetsuit suddenly felt her up the leg and arm at about 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 17, she said.
When she stood up, the man emerged from the water and said he had accidentally hit her with his elbow, Vyas said.
She called to a lifeguard for help, but was heckled by a group of four male swimmers who said she was "imagining things," and then later by a male lifeguard working for the Parks Department who called her "hysterical," she said.
"I know an improper touch from an inadvertent brush," Vyas said.
She went to a Parks supervisor to report the incident, and he asked what she wanted done about the incident and filled out an in-house complaint, she said, adding that he assured her that they work closely with the NYPD.
Vyas did not report the incident to police, and the NYPD would not respond to questions regarding whether a report was filed by the Parks Department.
A spokesman for the Parks Department confirmed Monday that the agency is investigating the incident, noting that "safety is priority" at its pools. He also said that pool staff had asked Vyas if she wanted police called, and she declined.
Then as Vyas was leaving the pool after making the complaint, a lifeguard remarked that she was being "hysterical and stereotyping the guy because he was black," Vyas said.
"All I could hear is 'she this' and 'she that,'" she said. "Unfortunately, the collective misogyny showed me that here's a group of men who now hate me for complaining about feeling violated. My brain has to calculate the risks and I shouldn't have to feel that way."