CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– A Chicopee landlord has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s office regarding allegations of sexual harassment against female tenants.
Salazar Dos Santos is alleged to violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing female tenants for at least 11 years. It also resolves claims against the Trusts of Salazar Dos Santos and America Dos Santos, which held the properties where the harassment occurred.
In December 2020 the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a lawsuit against Dos Santos alleging that, from 2008 through 2019, he subjected female tenants to unwelcome sexual contact, including coercing them to perform oral sex and touching intimate parts of their bodies. Complaints submitted to the court say that Dos Santos allegedly exposed his genitals to female tenants, locked tenants in his office, offered rent payment plans or free rent in exchange for engaging in sexual acts with him, and threatened tenants who resisted or objected to his unwelcome sexual harassment. Some tenants were evicted as a result of refusing his advances.
“Sexual harassment and the conduct alleged here is repugnant and completely unacceptable. Stable and safe housing is fundamental for positive outcomes in life. Insidiously, sexual harassment and violations in the context of housing often target vulnerable tenants who fear eviction and homelessness. Although not present in this case, there are also times that immigration status is the manipulation utilized to target and victimize vulnerable tenants,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Under the Fair Housing Act, the federal government has the authority to investigate and hold to account predatory landlords and property managers who engage in this despicable conduct. The District of Massachusetts is committed to actively and aggressively investigating these types of cases. Last, but certainly not least, I want to commend the brave women who came forward in this matter.”
Under the proposed consent decree agreed upon by all parties, subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the defendants are required to pay a total of $425,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the harassment and a $25,000 civil penalty; bars future discrimination and retaliation; requires that property management responsibilities be turned over to an independent manager; mandates the implementation of a sexual harassment policy, complaint procedure, and Fair Housing Act training; and requires detailed reporting regarding property management activities and compliance with the terms of the consent decree. The consent decree also permanently bars Dos Santos from participating in any property management responsibilities at any residential rental property.