| HUD No. 06-070
June 20, 2006
HUD CHARGES MISSOURI LANDLORD WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Investigation shows at least seven female tenants subjected to offensive sexual behavior
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged a Richmond, Missouri, landlord with violating the Fair Housing Act for sexually harassing a female tenant. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against persons based on their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability or familial status.
HUD charges that 85-year-old Harold Calvert, president of Calvert Properties, Inc., and manager of approximately 16 rental properties, subjected Lanessia Rowland to severe, pervasive, and unwelcome verbal and physical sexual advances. Rowland's children witnessed the unwanted advances on two occassions.
"We will not tolerate landlords who prey on vulnerable female tenants," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This charge sends a clear message to all landlords that tenants should never be subjected to sexual harassment and that we will take action aginst landlords who engage in such despicable conduct."
HUD's investigation showed Rowland, a 33-year-old female receiving Section 8 rental assistance from the Richmond Housing Authority rented Calvert's property in August 2003. On the day Rowland was moving in, Calvert stopped by the property and told Rowland he "could make her life easier." Calvert hugged and groped Rowland and attempted to kiss her. Rowland's 9-year-old daughter walked into the kitchen during the sexual advances.
A few days later, Calvert returned to Rowland's house and entered her bedroom where she alleges he grabbed and restrained her arms so she could not move as he attempted to kiss her. While Calvert was holding Rowland, her son walked in the bedroom and witnessed the alleged assault. At that point, Rowland claims Calvert released her and left the home.
HUD's investigation determined Calvert made additional unwelcome sexual advances to Rowland until she reported Calvert's conduct to the Richmond Police Department in January of 2004. Later that month, she sought and was granted an Ex Parte Order of Protection against Calvert in the Circuit Court of Ray County, Missouri. At a February hearing, Calvert consented to the judge's entry of a Full Order of Protection for Rowland, effective from February 2, 2004, until February 1, 2005.
After obtaining the Order of Protection Calvert ceased making sexual advances to Rowland, but in April 2004 Rowland reported that Calvert continued to upset her by driving by her house nearly every other day. HUD's investigation also found at least six other female tenants were subjected to similar offensive sexual remarks, unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact, or requests for unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact. Calvert's alleged sexual conduct included offering to pay tenants for sex, requesting sex in exchange for rent or other favors, unwanted attempts to kiss and grope, placing a woman's hand on his private area, and repeated sexual intercourse with at least one female tenant.
"Unfortunately, we have seen similar cases in the past," said Kendrick. "Most of the alleged victims were low-income, single women who had limited opportunities to seek other housing. Fortunately, Ms. Rowland knew she could come to HUD for help."
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for the complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorneys' fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court, and Ms. Rowland has done so.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Initiatives Program and the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 9,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY) or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.usdoj.gov.