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N.Y. landlord, sex offender settle Fair Housing Act case for $2M

N.Y. landlord, sex offender settle Fair Housing Act case for $2M

NEW YORK—A New York landlord who had employed as a superintendent a registered sex offender who had sexually harassed female tenants has reached a $2 million settlement with the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit, which charged violation of the Fair Housing Act, was filed by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara in 2010 against Stanley Katz, owner of two Manhattan buildings and the previous owner of a third building in Manhattan, and William Barnason, the former superintendent of the properties.

The suit charged that Mr. Barnason, who worked for Mr. Katz for more than eight years, had sexually harassed female tenants by routinely demanding to have sexual relations with them in exchange for rent reductions, according to the lawsuit.

He also was accused of various forms of unwanted verbal sexual advances, touching and language, inappropriate grabbing of tenants, and yelling obscenities at tenants who would not comply with his sexual demands.

Mr. Barnason also withheld mail delivery and apartment repairs, and threatened tenants with eviction if his sexual demands were refused, according to the statement.

The lawsuit said Mr. Katz knew, or should have known, of Mr. Barnason's conduct, but failed to take “reasonable or corrective measures.”

The attorney general's office said Tuesday that under terms of the settlement, the defendants will pay more than $2 million to tenants and $55,000 in civil penalties, which represents the largest recovery ever in a sexual harassment suit brought by the United States under the Fair Housing Act.

The settlement agreement, in the form of a consent decree, is subject to approval by the federal district court in New York.

Mr. Katz's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

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