HUD alleges Springfield-area rental company owner sexually harassed female tenants | Englishheadline


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is charging a Springfield-area rental company and owner with housing discrimination for allegedly subjecting a tenant to sexual harassment, according to a press release.

Second Bell Trust, which owned multiple single-family rental properties in the Springfield area, and the owner and property manager, Jimmie Bell, is being charged with violating the Fair Housing Act. The charge is on behalf of a tenant, her children and her nephew.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits sexual harassment of tenants and other forms of housing discrimination based on race, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), color, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status.

In HUD’s charge, the tenant says that Bell made repeated unwelcome sexual comments, pressured her to provide sexual favors and touched her inappropriately. The tenant lived in one of Bell’s properties from July 2017 until August 2019. When the tenant fell behind on rent payments, Bell allegedly said “there are ways we can work this out” and asked “what can we do to handle this?” On another occasion, Bell allegedly grabbed the tenant’s breast and put his hands down her pants.

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The charge also alleges that Bell made unwelcome sexual advances towards at least 11 other women during their tenancy.

“Subjecting tenants to unwelcome sexual advances and sexual harassment is outrageous and a clear violation of the law,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s charge sends a clear message to all landlords that HUD is committed to taking action against landlords whose behavior violates the Fair Housing Act.”

The case will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.

People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 or 800-927-9275 (TTY).

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: HUD: Springfield property owner subjected tenants to sexual harassment

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