Justice Department Sues Convicted Landlord for Sexual Harassment
The Justice Department recently sued a West Virginia man, who owned and managed rental property with his late wife, for allegedly subjecting female residents to egregious sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of federal fair housing law. The husband is currently incarcerated, serving up to 10 years for sexual abuse and other charges, some related to the allegations in the complaint. The wife has since died.
The complaint alleged that from at least 2006 until he was incarcerated last year, the husband engaged in egregious acts of sexual harassment against multiple female residents. According to the complaint, the harassment included unwanted and unwelcome sexual touching, groping, and sex acts with female residents; conditioning or offering tangible housing benefits to female residents in exchange for performance of sex acts on him or his maintenance workers; entering the apartments of female residents without permission to sexually harass them; and retaliating against female residents when they refused his sexual advances or objected to continuing to grant sexual favors. The suit also alleges that the wife failed to take appropriate steps when residents complained about the harassment.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination. The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct, which must be proven in federal court.
“No woman should have to suffer sexual harassment in her home or live in fear of retaliation when she reports such heinous acts of discrimination,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Sexual abuse has no place in a civilized society, and the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act by safeguarding the rights of tenants and holding perpetrators accountable.”