Wisconsin rental property owners facing lawsuit, accused of harassing women tenants since 2000

JANESVILLE, Wis. (WFRV) – Two Wisconsin residents who own rental properties are facing a lawsuit after allegedly offering reduced/free rent to women in exchange for sexual contact.

According to authorities, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Richard and Mary Donahue. The two own rental properties in Janesville and allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Richard sexually harassed multiple women tenants since at least 2000. Richard reportedly manages the properties.

According to the complaint, Richard did the following:

  • Made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments to women tenants
  • Entered the homes of women tenants without consent
  • Touched women tenants’ bodies without consent
  • Requested sexual contact
  • Offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sexual contact
  • Took adverse housing-related actions against women tenants who refused his sexual advances

The lawsuit also named Mary, who is Richard’s wife, as a defendant. She reportedly co-owns some of the properties.

Monetary damages to those harmed by the alleged harassment, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination are what the lawsuit is reportedly seeking.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe at home, but sexual harassment in housing destroys that security,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The U.S. Department of Justice describes the federal Fair Housing Act as: Prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available here.

Anyone who believes they could have been victims of sexual harassment or housing discrimination by the Donahues is asked to call 608-264-5158. Those with information that could be relevant to the case are also asked to call.

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