Justice Department Secures Title IX Agreement Addressing Campus Sexual Assault and Harassment with Case Western Reserve University
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Joseph Pedaline, an owner and manager of residential rental properties, in Youngstown, Ohio, for engaging in sexual harassment in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleges that Joseph Pedaline sexually harassed female tenants at properties that he owned or managed in Youngstown since at least 2009. According to the complaint, Pedaline subjected tenants to repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, touched them without their consent, entered their homes without permission and offered to overlook late rent payments, waive rent or perform repairs in exchange for sexual contact. The lawsuit also alleges that Pedaline initiated evictions or threatened to evict tenants who refused his sexual advances.
“No tenant should have to endure sexual propositions, sexual comments or unwelcome physical contact from their landlord,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Sexual harassment in housing is wrong, immoral and illegal. The Justice Department will continue to hold landlords accountable when they violate federal civil rights laws.”
“Too often tenants with limited housing options are preyed upon by landlords, maintenance staff and others who have control over where they live,” said U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio. “This lawsuit sends a message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate the exploitation of our vulnerable community members.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate persons harmed by the alleged harassment, a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest and a court order barring future discrimination.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or managed by Joseph Pedaline or YLP LLC, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, may contact the Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291, press 1 for English, press 2 for sexual harassment and then press 01 for United States v. Joseph Pedaline to leave a message. Individuals may also send an email to Youngstown.Community@usdoj.gov or submit a report online. Reports also may be made by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.
The Justice Department launched its Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative in October 2017. The department’s initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The initiative seeks to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers and other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative, the department has filed 36 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered over $10.8 million for victims of such harassment.