SEDAMSVILLE, OH (FOX19) - A Sedamsville landlord sexually discriminated against his female tenants and subjected them to "severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment," on multiple occasions, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.
"No woman should have to endure sexual harassment in order to remain in her home," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division in a prepared statement.
"Sexual harassment in housing is unacceptable and illegal, and landlords should be on notice that the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat this type of discrimination and to obtain relief for victims."
John Klosterman, who owned or held an ownership interest in at least 55 residential properties, controlled all aspects of management on them and violated the Fair Housing Act, according to a civil complaint.
It accuses him of:
- Making unwelcome sexual advances and sending sexual text messages and photos
- Touching female tenants without their consent
- Offering to reduce the rent and overlook late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex
Klosterman, the complaint states, evicted tenants or refused to make repairs for female tenants who eschewed the sexual advances.
He preferred renting to single female tenants and took adverse housing actions against them once he learned they were not single, according to federal authorities.
One of the tenants, Mahogany Conyers told FOX19 NOW in an interview Wednesday that Klosterman sent her a nude text message and told her to go to one of his apartments, where he had a surprise for her.
"So, I go upstairs, open up the door and I am walking around the room and I don't see anything," she said. "He said to look on the bed, and then I do, and there were (items of lingerie)."
Federal records also allege he entered the homes of his female tenants without their consent and monitored their daily activities with cameras directed at their units and through other means.
Last fall, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division announced the Sex Harassment in Housing Initiative (SHI).
The Initiative specifically seeks to increase the department's efforts to protect individuals from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.
The allegations must be proven in federal court.