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New England landlord accused of serial sexual harassment to pay $450K settlement
Justice Department alleged Salazar Dos Santos sexually harassed and assaulted female tenants for more than a decade
A Massachusetts landlord will pay $450,000 in a settlement resolving allegations he serially sexually harassed and assaulted female tenants.
Salazar Dos Santos, a longtime landlord in Chicopee, Massachusetts, will pay $425,000 to victims and a $25,000 civil penalty to settle the lawsuit filed against him in 2019, according to an announcement by the Department of Justice. In the settlement, Dos Santos is also barred from managing any residential properties and must hire an independent property manager.
Dos Santos has managed eight properties with about 40 individual units in Chicopee, a city outside the Massachusetts capital Springfield, for decades, according to the suit. Various trusts tied to him own the properties, including the Trust of Salazar Dos Santos and the Trust of America Dos Santos, which are named as defendants in the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
The Justice Department’s suit alleged that for more than a decade, Dos Santos harassed and assaulted tenants, frequently offering to exchange sex for rent.
The Justice Department’s suit alleges that between 2008 and 2009, Salazar Dos Santos coerced female tenants to perform oral sex for him, exposed his penis to them, subjected them to unwanted sexual contact and advances, and threatened women who resisted and objected to his sexual harassment.
One former tenant told the Justice Department that Dos Santos required her to pay her rent in person, would lock his office door and demand she perform oral sex on him. When she did not have childcare, he forced her to do so in front of the tenant’s infant, the suit alleges.
Another female tenant told the Justice Department that Dos Santos entered her home in 2019, took out his penis, masturbated and demanded oral sex. She took his harassment to be, “an implied offer of sex for rent,” the lawsuit says.
“Coercing tenants to engage in sex acts and retaliating against those who resist are among the most egregious forms of sexual harassment that we see today,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark said in the press release.
The investigation was a part of the Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative, which is led by the Civil Rights Division. The DOJ launched the initiative in October 2017, at the outset of the national #MeToo movement. Since then, the initiative has secured more than $10 million in settlements for victims of sexual harassment in housing, according to the Department of Justice.
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