CINCINNATI—The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued Cincinnati landlord Henry E. Bailey for violations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, charging that Bailey, who owns 22 apartments in three separate buildings around the city, sneaked into apartments and molested female tenants while they slept, offered to reduce their rents and/or provide free maintenance in return for sexual favors, while refusing to do the same for those who spurned his advances, and in some instances, even evicting them.
"Henry Bailey on multiple occasions subjected actual and prospective female tenants ... to discrimination on the basis of sex, including severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment," the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, charges.
Other complaints against Bailey, which stretch back to 2008, include subjecting female tenants and prospective tenants to unwanted verbal sexual advances and unwanted sexual touching.
"Every individual has the right under federal law to rent housing without being subjected to sexual harassment," Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated in a Justice Department press release. "Landlords who abuse their power and authority in this way should be on notice that the Justice Department steadfastly enforces the Fair Housing Act throughout the United States."
"A person’s home should provide a place of comfort and safety," added U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter M. Stewart. "We must safeguard those values by investigating and prosecuting any person or group that seeks to interfere with them."
While it is unclear how many tenants and prospective tenants were harassed by Bailey, the DOJ suit seeks monetary damages for the victims, civil penalties for the violations of the law and a court order which bars future discrimination and which will require Bailey to take additional preventive measures.Moreover, it is expected that the DOJ lawsuit may encourage some of the discrimination victims to file civil lawsuits of their own against Bailey.