(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank is asking Mainers who have been the victim of housing-related sexual harassment resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis to report such practices to the Department of Justice.
“While the vast majority of landlords have been incredibly understanding and accommodating to their tenants during this crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Frank, “there have been reports of some landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments with demands for sexual favors and other unwelcome sexual conduct. This behavior is reprehensible and will not be tolerated. The Attorney General has asked all U.S. Attorneys to investigate reports of housing-related sexual harassment resulting from the current crisis, and my office and the Department of Justice are ready to do whatever we can to stop this predatory behavior.”
In October 2017, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. Since launching the initiative, the Department has filed 14 lawsuits alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing. Recently, for example, the Department settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against the owners and managers of Kansas rental properties alleging that one of the owners sexually harassed numerous tenants. The owners agreed to pay $160,000 in damages and civil penalties to resolve the lawsuit.