MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – A Muskegon area landlord is accused of sexually touching female tenants, asking for sex from them and retaliating when they refused in a lawsuit filed by the federal government.
Darrell Jones, who owns rental properties in the Muskegon area, is accused of violating the Fair Housing Act for alleged acts over 10 years, between 2008 and 2018, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
Also named as defendants are property co-owners Fatima Jones, who is Darrell Jones’ wife, and Jones Investing LLC.
“No woman should be forced to suffer sexual harassment to keep her home,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a prepared statement.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, as well as civil penalties “to vindicate the public interest,” the press release reads.
A phone message left by MLive/Muskegon Chronicle seeking comment from Fatima and Darrell Jones was not immediately returned.
The complaint alleges that Darrell Jones offered free rent in exchange for sex with his female tenants, and retaliated against those who refused. It also alleges that he “made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments” and touched women’s bodies without their consent.
Jones owns and/or manages 25 rental properties in the Muskegon area, according to the complaint that alleges “severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment” to multiple female tenants.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Darrell Jones:
-Asked for photos of female tenants’ naked body parts
-Offered to make repairs, reduce rent or overlook late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex.
-Touched female tenants’ buttocks and breasts without their consent.
-Evicted, threatened eviction or refused to make repairs when female tenants refused his sexual advances.
-Displayed preference for renting to single female tenants and “taking adverse housing actions” against female tenants when he learned they were not single.
-Entered homes of female tenants without their consent.
The lawsuit references the alleged experiences of three of Jones’ tenants:
-In 2018, it’s alleged he “repeatedly harassed” a female tenant with unwelcome sexual comments about her body, asking her to go on dates, asking for naked photos of her, asking for sexual activity, touching her buttocks without her consent. He’s also accused of delaying or refusing to make repairs and eventually evicting her “once his sexual advances were rebuffed.”
-On “numerous occasions” between 2013-16, he allegedly touched the breasts of a female tenant without her consent, made “unwelcome comments” to her about his genitalia and asked she touch his penis when he collected her rent. He also told her her boyfriend could not be at the property.
-In 2016, it’s alleged he “repeatedly pressured” a woman to show him her buttocks or breasts and said if she did so he would reduce her rent. He also offered to waive her rent completely if she had sex with him. He also asked her to give him naked photos of herself.
Fatima Jones, is named in the lawsuit because she is “vicariously liable” for his actions because Darrell Jones acted as her agent in the management of properties she owned with him.
Anyone who believes they were victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination by Darrell or Fatima Jones is encouraged to call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743 and choose option 91 to leave a message.
The lawsuit is one of 15 filed as part of the Justice Department’s initiative against sexual harassment in housing, and is led by its civil rights division.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status.
Reports of sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination also can be emailed to the Justice Department at [email protected]
Source: M LIVE