Department of Justice Seal


MONDAY, MARCH 30, 1998 (202) 616-2765

TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today charged an Akron landlord with violating the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pervasive pattern of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, against several female tenants at apartment buildings he owns in the area.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, alleges that Paul Crawford, 76, harassed women in several of the more than 35 rental properties he owns in Akron. The alleged victims are mostly lower-income, single women who had limited opportunities to seek other housing, making them particularly vulnerable to harassment by a landlord.

"We will not tolerate landlords who prey on vulnerable female tenants," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

The Justice Department alleged that Crawford engaged in the unlawful activity from at least 1995, to the present. Alleged actions by Crawford include unwanted verbal sexual advances, unwanted sexual touching, asking for sexual favors in exchange for tenancy, and threatening to evict women who refused his sexual advances.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal to discriminate against any individuals seeking housing based on their race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or familial status.

The Justice Department is asking the court to order Crawford to pay damages to identified victims, as well as civil penalties to the U.S. treasury.

The Justice Department will seek to consolidate its lawsuit with a related civil suit brought by Housing Advocates, Inc. in April of last year.

Any individual who has information relating to the allegations in this case should call the Justice Department at (800) 896-7743.

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