The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the property manager and owners of Los Angeles apartment buildings near MacArthur Park alleging that female tenants in the buildings were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, according to a release.
The suit alleges that [the] property manager sexually harassed female residents at the rental properties since at least 2006 through the present.
According to the complaint, [the manager] engaged in harassment that included, among other things, frequently and repeatedly engaging in unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault, making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, offering to reduce rent or excusing late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex, and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent.
The apartment buildings are located near MacArthur Park. The Department’s complaint names [the manager, the owner and lists all defendants] who own or manage the properties where the illegal conduct occurred, according to the release.
Sexual Harassment in Housing
Initiative by Justice Department
“No woman should have to endure sexual harassment, especially in her own home,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the release. “Sexual harassment in housing is unacceptable and illegal, and the Justice Department will continue vigorously to enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat this type of discrimination and to obtain relief for its victims.”
Nick Hanna, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, said in the release, “The sexual harassment of vulnerable women is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate this behavior by any landlord or property manager. Those who abuse their positions of power will be held accountable under the Fair Housing Act.”
“We will not tolerate this behavior by any landlord or property manager,” Nick Hanna, United States Attorney.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.
The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct, which must be proven in federal court.
In October 2017, the Department of Justice 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: an outreach toolkit to leverage the Department’s nationwide network of U.S. Attorney’s Offices, a public awareness campaign, including the release of a national Public Service Announcement, and a new joint task force with HUD to combat sexual harassment in housing. Since launching the initiative, the Department of Justice has filed thirteen lawsuits.
UPDATE: Man Who Threatened to Kill
His Landlords Sentenced to 40 Years
A Beaverton, Oregon man who threatened to kill his landlords and used mercury to deter people from entering his apartment has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, a sentence “commensurate to the danger he posed to his neighbors in the community,” according to the U.S. Attorney for Oregon.
Jason Paul Schaefer, 28, of Beaverton, Oregon, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison and 5 years’ supervised release for detonating an improvised explosive device on October 11, 2017, and assaulting two members of the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), according to a release.
In May 2019, Schaefer was convicted after a six-day trial of two counts of assaulting a federal officer and one count each of carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, carrying and using an explosive during the commission of a federal felony, unlawful transport of explosive materials, possession of an unregistered destructive device and being a felon in possession of explosives.
“The government may never fully know why Mr. Schaefer amassed a large quantity of dangerous precursor chemicals and the components needed to make a large, remote-detonating bomb. What we do know is that on October 11, 2017, he tried to kill two federal task force officers attempting to make a lawful arrest,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, in a release.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the JTTF agents and partners and our prosecutors for protecting our community by taking this violent criminal off the streets. This prosecution affirms the critical public safety mission of the JTTF and the need for continued and active participation of all federal, state and local partners,” Williams said in the release.
Man Who Threatened to Kill His Landlords
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, FBI Portland determined that Schaefer had purchased several items that could be used to make a bomb. The threat to kill his landlords and the use of mercury led to Schaefer being arrested and prosecuted for illegally possessing body armor.
Federal agents and task force officers executed a search warrant on Schaefer’s Beaverton apartment in October 2017, according to the release. Schaefer arrived that morning at a meeting with his probation officer to find two federal agents there to meet him. They notified Schaefer of the warrant and asked if his property was booby trapped. Schaeffer told the agents that it was not and the search commenced.
After a brief conversation with the agents, Schaefer departed in a white sport utility vehicle. The agents followed Schaefer, but lost him. Meanwhile, agents searching Schaefer’s apartment found several explosive precursors and electronic matches. While the search was ongoing, Schaefer returned to the apartment and threatened a task force officer before fleeing, according to the release.
Two task force officers pursued Schaefer, who soon got stuck in traffic.
The officers approached Schaefer on foot and ordered him out of the vehicle. Schaefer did not comply, threatened to kill the officers and ignited an explosive device concealed in a cigarette pack. The blast caused significant injury to Schaefer’s hand and sent debris flying into one of the officers, who suffered bodily injury. Following the explosion, Schaefer was arrested and officers found a second cigarette pack containing explosives in his vehicle.
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