The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged a Springfield rental property company and its property manager with housing discrimination based on sexual misconduct claims.
In the lawsuit filed Aug. 31 by HUD, Jimmie Bell of Second Bell Trust is accused of allegedly subjecting a female tenant to sexual harassment, including requests for sexual favors in exchange for rent, unwanted touching and discriminatory statements based on sex, according to a news release.
The tenant and her children, who are unnamed in the suit, moved away from the house "after enduring several years of sexual harassment from Bell," according to HUD.
The suit alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act that prohibits sexual harassment of tenants and other forms of housing discrimination, according to the release.
"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, in the release. "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."
A call to the phone number listed online for Second Bell Trust went unanswered this morning.
Greene County assessor records show more than 50 Second Bell Trust properties throughout the city.
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