Justice Department files sexual harassment lawsuit against Wisconsin rental property owners | Takeover bid


The Department of Justice today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Richard and Mary Donahue, landlords of rental properties in the Janesville, Wisconsin area, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleges that Richard Donahue, who manages the properties, sexually harassed numerous tenants since at least 2000. According to the complaint, Donahue made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments Women’s. tenants, entered tenants’ homes without consent, touched tenants’ bodies without consent, requested sexual touching, offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sexual touching, and took adverse housing-related actions against tenants who refused his sexual advances. The lawsuit also names as a defendant Mary Donahue, the wife of Richard Donahue, who co-owns some of the properties.

Today’s lawsuit seeks damages to compensate those harmed by the alleged harassment, civil penalties to defend the public interest and a court order prohibiting future discrimination. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes, but sexual harassment in housing destroys that safety,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act against landlords who engage in this type of predatory and illegal behavior.”

“No one should have to choose between having a place to live or being sexually harassed,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea for the Western District of Wisconsin. “These few landlords in Wisconsin who exploit vulnerable tenants for sexual purposes violate federal law and will be held accountable.”

The Department of Justice 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 goal of the initiative is to address and raise awareness of sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or others who control housing. Since the initiative was launched, the Department of Justice has filed 24 housing sexual harassment lawsuits and recovered more than $9.5 million for victims of such harassment.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and marital status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it administers is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.

Individuals who believe they have experienced sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination in rental accommodations owned or operated by the Donahues, or who have other information that may be relevant to this matter, may contact the Housing Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-591-0291, select a language and select option number 2, then option number 4 to leave a message. Individuals may also contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin at (608) 264-5158. Individuals can also email the Department of Justice at [email protected] or submit a report online.

If you believe you may be the victim of sexual harassment by a landlord or other forms of housing discrimination, you may contact the Department of Justice by submitting a report online or by contacting the U.S. Attorney’s Office at [email protected]

Reports can also be made by contacting the US Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.


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