WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against Trinity House Living Services and David Madrid, the owner, operator, and manager of Trinity House Living Services. Trinity House Living Services consisted of several group residences in Albuquerque, New Mexico that housed individuals with mental disabilities. The Justice Department’s lawsuit alleged a pattern or practice of harassment based on the Trinity House tenants’ mental disabilities and sex.
"No one should endure unrelenting harassment, particularly in a home intended to provide safe, secure shelter," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Those who abuse their power and prey sexually on their tenants must be stopped. The Justice Department is committed to pursuing those who engage in this unacceptable behavior."
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in June 2004, alleged that David Madrid had engaged in a pattern or practice of harassing his mentally disabled tenants on the basis of the tenants’ disability and sex, in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act. The complaint specifically alleged that Mr. Madrid subjected tenants with mental disabilities to severe and pervasive unwelcome physical harassment and discriminatory living conditions (including verbal harassment); subjected female tenants to severe and pervasive unwelcome sexual harassment including but not limited to hugs, massages, and touching of intimate body parts; and threatened to evict or take other adverse actions against tenants who refused, objected to, or reported his discriminatory actions. The complaint further alleged that Madrid explicitly based the terms of female Trinity House residents’ tenancy on the granting of sexual favors, such as requesting to sexually touch female tenants in exchange for the tenants’ receipt of medications.
Under the terms of the agreement, which requires court approval, Mr. Madrid will pay $67,500 in monetary damages as well as a $7,500 civil penalty to the government, and will refrain from personally managing any group home facilities for the duration of the decree. The settlement does not represent an admission of guilt by the defendant.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since January 21, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 158 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, including 71 based on disability discrimination and 16 based on sex discrimination. Additional information about the housing and Civil Enforcement Section is available at /crt/about/hce.