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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owner and Manager of Rental Property in Dayton, Kentucky

The Justice Department today announced that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that Gus Crank, manager of a residential rental property in Dayton, Kentucky, sexually harassed female tenants in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit also alleges that Penny Crank, an owner of the rental property, is liable for Gus Crank’s actions because he managed the rental property on her behalf.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, alleges that Gus Crank engaged in sexual harassment of female tenants from approximately 2008 through 2016, by, among other things, demanding that female tenants engage in sexual acts to keep their housing, engaging in unwelcome sexual touching, offering to reduce monthly rental payments in exchange for sex, making unwelcome sexual comments and advances, making intrusive and unannounced visits to female tenants’ homes to further his sexual advances, and evicting or threatening to evict female tenants who objected or refused his sexual advances.

“No female tenant should have to suffer sexual harassment as a condition of maintaining housing for herself or her family,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act against property managers and owners who make illegal demands for sex and cause women to feel unsafe in their own homes.”

“Everyone has the right to be free from sexual harassment and intimidation, and the allegations in this case are very troubling,” said Robert M. Duncan Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Individuals who are being victimized as a condition of their housing have rights and we encourage them to report this type of reprehensible behavior to the Department of Justice.”

In October 2017, the Justice Department launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. In April 2018, the Department announced the nationwide rollout of the initiative, including three major components: a new joint Task Force with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to combat sexual harassment in housing, an outreach toolkit to leverage the Department’s nationwide network of U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and a public awareness campaign, including the launch of a national Public Service Announcement.

Since launching the initiative, the Justice Department has filed eight lawsuits alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing. The Justice Department has filed or settled 14 sexual harassment cases since January 2017, and has recovered over $1.6 million for victims of sexual harassment in housing.

Today’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings managed by Gus Crank, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky at (859) 685-4823.

Individuals can also report sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination by e-mailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Updated March 6, 2019