FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1999(202) 353-8584
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES OHIO LANDLORD FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal jury in Cleveland today returned a $490,000 verdict against an Akron landlord for sexually harassing female tenants, the Justice Department announced today.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, alleged that Paul Crawford, 76, violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pervasive pattern of harassment, including sexual assault, against women in several of the more than 35 rental properties he owns in Akron, Ohio. Most of the alleged victims are 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. "Today's decision sends a clear message to all landlords that women should never be subjected to sexual harassment."
The Justice Department alleged that Crawford engaged in the unlawful activity from at least 1995, to the present. At the trial, several tenants testified that Crawford's actions included 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 monetary award will be divided among nearly 20 female tenants and Housing Advocates Inc., a fair housing organization, who the jury found were victims of the harassment. The individual awards range from $3,000 to $58,000.
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's case was consolidated with a related civil suit brought by Housing Advocates Inc. in April 1998.
Judge Kathleen O'Malley set a hearing for November 4 to determine whether a civil penalty should also be assessed against Crawford and whether he should be barred from further involvement in the rental business.
Any individual who has information relating to the allegations in this case should call the Justice Department at (800) 896-7743.
# # #