FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES ALBUQUERQUE GROUP HOME OPERATOR FOR DISABILITY AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit alleging that the operator of several Albuquerque, New Mexico, group residences for persons with mental disabilities subjected his tenants to pervasive sexual harassment.
“The type of unrelenting harassment and sexual exploitation alleged in this case is appalling and unacceptable,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “No American should suffer this type of abuse, particularly in the sanctity of their home. We remain committed to combating discrimination in housing.”
The lawsuit alleges that the owner, operator and manager of Trinity House Living Services of Albuquerque, New Mexico, harassed his tenants over a six-year period. Specifically, the government alleges that owner-operator subjected numerous tenants to unwelcomed sexual contact. According to the complaint, he threatened to evict tenants who objected to his actions and conditioned routine treatment, such as the receipt of medicine, on the granting of sexual favors.
“The basic right to obtain housing without reprisals based on one’s sex or disability is fundamental,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias. “We cannot, and will not, tolerate a practice of using one’s position as a landlord to abuse or extort sexual favors from tenants.”
The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, punitive damages, and a court order barring future discrimination. The case is being jointly handled by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico.
Since January 1, 2001, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has filed 122 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, including 12 based on sex discrimination and 52 based on disability discrimination.