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Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative - News

Press Releases

June 20, 2024 - Justice Department Secures Agreement from Ohio Landlords to Resolve Claims of Sexual Harassment Against Female Tenants

May 20, 2024 - Justice Department Secures Award Against Owner of Massachusetts Sober Homes for Sexual Harassment

April 29, 2024 - Justice Department Secures Agreement to Resolve Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Savannah, Georgia, Landlord

April 8, 2024 - Justice Department Secures Agreement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Michigan Rental Property Owner

March 6, 2024 - Justice Department Sues New Mexico Property Manager for Sexually Harassing Tenants

February 9,2024 - Justice Department Secures Agreement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Wisconsin Landlords

February 2, 2024 - Justice Department Secures Agreement with Alabama Landlord to Resolve Claims of Sexual Harassment of Female Tenants

January 11, 2024 - Justice Department Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Oklahoma Landlord for Sexually Harassing Tenants

November 16, 2023 - Justice Department Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Maine Landlord for Sexually Harassing Tenants

September 29, 2023 - Justice Department Secures Agreement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against California Property Manager and Owners

September 6, 2023 - Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Ohio Landlord


More News

Some Recent Cases

Peter McCarthy and Steps to Solutions, Inc. - On May 24, 2024, the Court entered judgment on a May 17, 2024, jury verdict in United States v. Peter McCarthy and Steps to Solutions, Inc. (D. Mass.).  The United States’ complaint, filed on August 11, 2021, alleged that Peter McCarthy, who operates a group of residential sober homes in or near Boston, Massachusetts through his company, Steps to Solutions, Inc., engaged in a pattern or practice of sexually harassment of residents of his sober homes in  violation of the Fair Housing Act.  After a five-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the United States, finding that from at least 2009 through 2021, the Defendant engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment and denied rights protected by the Fair Housing Act to a group of persons.  The jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $3,805,000 to seven aggrieved persons.

Iraj Shambayati - 1511 Rosewood, LLC and IDHD Properties, Inc. have owned and managed more than 45 residential properties in and around Savannah, Georgia. DOJ’s investigation uncovered evidence indicating that Shambayati had engaged in a pattern or practice of sexually harassing his female tenants dating back to at least 2008. DOJ filed a lawsuit in August 2023 against Shambayati, 1511 Rosewood, LLC, and IDHD Properties, each of whom has owned or currently owns some of the rental properties Shambayati managed. The Complaint alleged that Shambayati harassed female tenants and prospective tenants by making repeated and unwelcome sexual comments and advances, inappropriately touching their bodies without their permission, entering their homes without their permission, requesting sexual acts in exchange for rent or other housing-related benefits, and taking retaliatory actions against female tenants who rejected his sexual advances or complained about the harassment. The parties agreed to a settlement and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia entered a Consent Order on April 29, 2024. The Consent Order requires Shambayati, 1511 Rosewood LLC and IDHD Properties LLC, to pay $590,000 in monetary damages to female tenants and prospective tenants harmed by Shambayati’s conduct, and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States. The Consent Order requires defendants to vacate any retaliatory eviction judgments obtained against these tenants and to take steps to correct the tenants’ credit histories. The defendants are also prohibited from managing residential rental properties in the future. Finally, the Consent Order requires defendants to (1) retain an independent property manager for the properties, (2) implement a sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure, and (3) submit detailed reports regarding property management activities and compliance with the terms of the consent order.

Donahue - Richard and Mary Donahue own and manage more than 100 residential rental properties in and around Janesville, Wisconsin.  DOJ’s investigation uncovered that since at least 2000, Richard Donahue engaged in a pattern or practice of sexually harassing his female tenants.    Read more ...

Hames - On February 2, 2024, the United States entered into a Settlement Agreement in United States v. Randy Hames and Hames Marina, LLC d/b/a Hames Marina and Mobile Home Park (N.D. Ala.). The Complaint, filed on July 7, 2018, alleged that Randy Hames, who owned and managed rental properties in a mobile home park in Cullman County, Alabama, engaged in (1) a pattern or practice of sexual harassment of, (2) denial of rights to, and (3) retaliation against female tenants and applicants.  Read more ...

Dos Santos - Salazar Dos Santos managed multiple residential rental properties in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  DOJ’s investigation revealed that Dos Santos had sexually harassed female tenants on multiple occasions since at least 2008.    Read more ...

Bruno – Richard Bruno managed residential rental properties in New London, Connecticut.  On May 8, 2017, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced on September 28, 2017, to 16 years in federal prison for producing child pornography in one of the properties he managed, with one of the minors who lived in one of the properties he managed.   Read more ...

Jones - Darrell Jones owned and managed more than 30 rental properties in the Muskegon, Michigan area.  DOJ’s investigation revealed that Jones had, on repeated occasions since at least 2008, sexually harassed multiple female tenants and prospective tenants.  Read more...

Ables – Chad David Ables owns rental properties in Lexington, Tennessee.  DOJ received complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development that Ables had been sexually harassing his female tenants.  DOJ filed a lawsuit in December 2018, and an amended complaint in April 2019.  Read more ...

Centanni - Joseph Centanni owned and managed hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey.  DOJ opened an investigation of Centanni in 2019, after receiving a referral from the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Many, but not all, of Centanni’s tenants participated in the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8.  Read more...

Pfeiffer – Reese Pfeiffer owns and manages rental properties in the Minneapolis area.  Numerous female tenants and prospective tenants alleged that he offered rental benefits in exchange for sex and engaged in severe and unwelcome sexual touching in connection with their housing.  Read more...

Hubbard - Anthony Hubbard owned and managed residential rental properties in and around Toledo, Ohio.  DOJ received a report that Hubbard sexually harassed a female tenant.  Read more...

Hernandez - Filomeno Hernandez managed residential apartment buildings near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California. DOJ received reports that for more than a decade, Hernandez sexually harassed female tenants with unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault, frequent unwelcome sexual advances and comments, offers to reduce rent or excuse late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex and unannounced visits to the homes of female tenants without their consent to make sexual advances.  Read more...

Pelfrey - Walter Pelfrey, who died in July 2018, owned and operated over 80 rental properties in and around Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. DOJ received complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other reports that Pelfrey had been sexually harassing his female tenants, including exchanging sexual acts for rent or partial rent, exposing himself to tenants or prospective tenants, entering tenants home and touching them in their sleep, groping tenants or prospective tenants, making unwelcome sexual comments or advances to tenants or prospective tenants, and evicting or threatening to evict tenants who refused to engage in sexual acts. Read more…

Nelson - Larry Nelson owned and managed rental properties in and around San Diego, California.  DOJ received reports that he had been sexually harassing his female tenants.  Former tenants accused him of unwelcome sexual touching, offering to reduce rent in exchange for sex, making unwelcome sexual comments and advances, peeping in bedroom windows, and making intrusive and unannounced visits to female tenants’ homes to further his sexual advances. Read more...

Klosterman - John Klosterman owned and rented properties in Cincinnati, Ohio. DOJ received reports that Klosterman had been sexually harassing his female tenants, including making unwelcome comments about their bodies, touching their bodies in unwanted ways, and asking them for sex. Some victims also reported that Klosterman offered to reduce or waive their rent in exchange for sex and that he refused to make necessary property repairs, or commenced eviction actions, if they refused his sexual advances. Read more...

Price - Gary Price managed rental properties owned by GTP Investment Properties, LLC (GTP) and Alberta Lowery in and near Harrisonburg, Virginia.  DOJ received reports and learned through further investigation that Price had engaged in sexual harassment of and race discrimination against multiple tenants over a period of approximately twenty years. Read more...

Cao - Thong Cao owned and rented properties in Wichita, Kansas.  DOJ received complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other reports that Cao had been sexually harassing his female tenants, including touching and groping their bodies, breasts and buttocks, making unwelcome comments about their bodies, and asking them for sex. Read more...

Waterbury - Douglas Waterbury rented properties in and near Oswego, New York. DOJ received reports that he made unwelcome sexual comments to female applicants and tenants, touched or groped female applicants and tenants, demanded that female applicants and tenants engage in sexual acts with him to rent or continue renting an apartment, offered to reduce rent or security deposits in exchange for sexual acts, refused to make repairs in units with female tenants who rejected his advances, and forced female applicants and tenants to have sexual intercourse with him. Read more...

Hatfield - Robert N. Hatfield rented, sold, and financed homes in Wilkes County, North Carolina. DOJ received reports that he made unwelcome sexual comments to female applicants and tenants, groped female applicants and tenants, offered to reduce or eliminate payments in exchange for sexual acts, and took or threatened to take away housing benefits from residents who rejected his advances. Read more...

Webb – Hezekiah Webb owned and rented properties in St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois.  DOJ received a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that Webb had made comments about a tenant's body, asked her sexual questions, attempted to touch her breasts, and offered to reduce her rent in exchange for sex. Read more...

Tjoelker – Frank Tjoelker owns rental properties in Grand Rapids, Michigan. DOJ received reports that he made unwelcome sexual comments to female applicants and tenants. Read more...

Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority – The Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority operates the city's public housing. DOJ received complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other reports that Housing Authority employees were sexually harassing public housing residents and applicants. Read more...

Walden – Gary Walden owned and rented properties in Morgantown, West Virginia. DOJ received reports that he grabbed female tenants' bodies or tried to force them to touch him. Read more...

Wygul – Jeffrey Wygul owned and rented homes in Henry, Tennessee. DOJ received a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development that Wygul sexually harassed a tenant. Read more...

Southeastern Community and Family Services, Inc. – Southeastern Community and Family Services, Inc. (SCFS) runs the Section 8 housing voucher program in Scotland County, North Carolina. DOJ received reports from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Legal Aid of North Carolina that the manager and inspector of the Section 8 housing choice voucher program sexually harassed female applicants and participants of the voucher program. Read more...

 

Updated June 25, 2024