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Ohio Landlord Accused of Sexually Harassing Tenants for Over 11 Years Gets Sued by DOJ

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The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against a landlord in Ohio who has been accused of sexual harassment of female tenants for the past 11 years.

According to a lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, Joseph Pedaline is accused of violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly sexually harassing multiple women in residential properties he owned or rented in Youngstown, Ohio from 2009 until at least 2020.

In the civil complaint, Pedaline is accused of making sexual remarks repeatedly, touching female tenants without consent, entering female tenants’ homes, and offering to waive rent in exchange for sexual favors.

The lawsuit also claims that Pedaline evicted tenants or threatened to if they rejected his advances.

Four different scenarios are described in the complaint. In 2020, he’s accused of locking the front door and showing a woman an empty apartment. He then approached her from behind, touched her inappropriately, and said “This is where we meet.”

A tenant told him in 2018 that her rent was going to be late. He offered to have her clean an empty apartment so she could reduce the payment. She said there were no cleaning supplies when she arrived and he told her, “There are other ways to reduce the rent.” According to the complaint, she refused to have sexual relations with him and was then served an eviction order for non-payment.

Around 2012, Pedaline allegedly offered similar proposals to a woman who was cleaning apartments as a means to pay for her rent. She declined his advances and was evicted “without a court process” by changing the locks, according to the complaint.

He allegedly made lewd remarks in 2009 and 2010 and told a tenant that he would refund her rent payment, if she “dressed up a bit higher,” and added that they “could make other arrangements for rental.” The complaint states that the woman received a water bill after asking the landlord to stop. The complaint said that he then sued her to evict her when she didn’t pay.

The complaint states that there are other instances where Pedaline is accused of sexually harassing its tenants.

In a press release, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke from the DOJ Civil Rights Division said that “no tenant should be forced to endure sexual proposals, sexual comments, or unwanted physical contact by their landlord.” Sexual harassment in housing is immoral, illegal, and wrong. The Justice Department will continue holding landlords accountable for violating federal civil rights laws.”

The lawsuit seeks compensation for those affected by Pedaline’s alleged harassment. It also seeks a civil penalty in order to protect the public interest and a court ruling that prohibits future discrimination.

In a press release, U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko of the Northern District of Ohio stated that “too often, tenants with limited housing choices are preyed on by landlords and maintenance staff as well as others who control where they live.” “This lawsuit sends the message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t tolerate the exploitation of our community’s most vulnerable members.”

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