Home Assault and Battery Rental manager sued after allegedly hitting tenant in groin

Rental manager sued after allegedly hitting tenant in groin

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“God hates queers and queers go to hell,” is one of many hateful phrases allegedly used by a Milwaukee, Wisc., rental manager to a tenant he would also punch in the groin, according to a legal complaint.

The U.S. Department of Justice Friday announced it had filed a lawsuit against the rental manager, Dennis Parker. It alleges that Parker, along with the property owner and other rental managers “harassed a tenant because of his sex, including his sexual orientation and his disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”

According to the complaint, an unnamed tenant – identified as an adult gay male with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic disorder, depression and anxiety who receives disability benefits – moved into a property Parker managed in 2019.

“In the first few months of the tenancy Complainant and Defendant Parker were on good terms and at times friendly,” said the complaint.
“During this time, Complainant told Defendant Parker he had been previously sexually assaulted and raped.”

However, Parker began subjecting the tenant to unwanted sexual comments in December 2019. These included suggestions that the two have sex and, eventually, an alleged indication that he would also rape the tenant.

“Some of these comments made Complainant feel fearful and threatened,” said the complaint.

In December 2019, Parker allegedly started publicly harassing the tenant by yelling derogatory and offensive statements to him. He also began sending the tenant unwelcome text messages.

Although the tenant expressed his discomfort at receiving the messages, Parker allegedly kept sending them. They included texts that read “are you still on your period,” and “gay pride get back in the closet,” as well as derogatory references to the tenant’s disability.

By Dec. 22, 2019 the tenant contacted the Milwaukee Police Department to report Parker’s alleged harassment. When police came to talk to Parker, he refused to open his door and told an officer “go f*** yourself.”

He was issued a $195 citation for disorderly conduct.

Per the complaint, the citation did not stop Parker. On Jan.
24, 2020, he sent the tenant 28 text messages related to the incident with the police. Two days later, Parker shouted offensive language has he banged on the tenant’s door and broke his windows.

A month later, the harassment continued and Parker began including antisemitic language as well as a photo of a lynching in text messages he sent to the tenant, said the complaint.

Following more alleged harassment, threats that he would have to vacate the property and a bedbug infestation, the tenant moved out in July 2020.

Before he could move out of the property, Parker allegedly punched the tenant in the groin on June 21, 2020.

“Hope you enjoyed the sexual assault,” said Parker, according to the complaint. He was issued a $376 fine and a citation for assault and battery after the tenant contacted authorities.

Leaf Property Investments LLC which owns the property, and Sam Leaf, who manages the property, are also named as defendants in the Justice Department lawsuit.

The tenant also filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that the defendants had violated the Fair Housing Act.

“After an investigation, HUD determined that the defendants had discriminated against the tenant in violation of the Fair Housing Act and it issued a charge of discrimination, said the Justice Department.

“We stand ready to use our civil rights laws to combat all forms of sexual harassment in housing, including harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division regarding the case. “The Justice Department will hold accountable landlords and housing providers who engage in unlawful discrimination and harassment of vulnerable tenants.”

“No tenant should have to choose between having a stable residence or enduring sexual harassment from their landlord or property manager,” said U.S Attorney Richard G. Frohling for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our federal, state, local, Tribal and community partners to combat all forms of sexual harassment in housing and to seeking justice for those impacted by this type of egregious conduct.”

Through the lawsuit, the Justice Department is seeking an an order that would require defendants to pay monetary damages to the tenant and cease discrimination against any tenant based on sex and disability.

Individuals may report harassment or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination tip line at 1-833-591-0291, emailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or submitting a report online. Complaints can also be made through HUD by contacting 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.

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