BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit today alleging that a property manager in Chicopee violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants to sexual harassment.
The complaint alleges that Salazar dos Santos, 79, of Chicopee, who has managed residential rental properties in and around Chicopee since at least 2008, subjected female tenants to unwelcome sexual contact, including coercing them to perform oral sex and touching intimate parts of their bodies. Dos Santos allegedly exposed his genitals to female tenants, locked tenants in his office, implicitly offered to grant tangible benefits, such as rent payment plans, in exchange for engaging in sexual acts with him, and threatened tenants who resisted or objected to his unwelcome sexual harassment. The owners of the properties, two family trusts, are alleged to be liable for Salazar dos Santos’s conduct.
“No one should be forced to provide sexual favors, or otherwise endure sexual harassment, in exchange for housing,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Sexual harassment is illegal under the Fair Housing Act and, especially during a time of increased unemployment and financial stress, my office will aggressively enforce this law to protect hard working women and others subjected to this kind of abusive conduct.”
“It is appalling that any woman seeking safe, affordable housing would be met with demands for sex, sexual propositions, unwanted touching, and threats. Such abusive conduct by landlords and property manages violates federal law and shocks the conscience,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and threats by their housing providers, and the Justice Department will work resolutely to hold such predators accountable and to obtain relief for their victims.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties and a court order restricting his contact with tenants. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.
This lawsuit is part of the Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative. The initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices. The goal is to address sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers, or other people who have control over housing. As part of the initiative, the Justice Department developed a public service announcement and formed a joint task force with HUD to combat sexual harassment in housing.
Anyone with questions or concerns regarding this case should call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 888-221-6023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Attorney Lelling and AAG Dreiband made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Torey B. Cummings and Christopher Morgan, of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit, and the Springfield Branch Office respectively, are handling the matter.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.