ST. LOUIS – An apartment manager in Rolla, Mo., refused to rent to black people and even prohibited white tenants from having have black friends over to visit, federal prosecutors say. Roger Harris, manager of the Forum Manor Apartments, refused to let a black woman fill out an application, saying, “I don’t rent to people who look like you,” and told a tenant she could not have black friends visit “because it would scare other tenants,” according to the complaint.
After a tenant complained to the Housing of Urban Development, Harris retaliated by falsely accusing her of letting her black brother-in-law live in her unit and unsuccessfully tried to have her arrested for property damage, prosecutors say.
Harris allegedly referred to black people as “niggers,” and called one tenant’s biracial baby a “nigglet” during conversations with tenants.
Harris’ bias allegedly extended to single fathers. Daniel Howard, a white man with two children, claimed that Harris told him that he “had something for single mothers, but not for single fathers.”
Harris also sexually harassed female tenants, suggested that he would waive fees and other charges for sexual favors, looked into female tenants’ windows at night and threatened the women’s eligibility for federal housing assistance if they rejected him, prosecutors say.
The United States sued on behalf of four people and their children, seeking damages for Fair Housing Act violations.
Harris, Hediger Enterprises, Forum Manor Associates and Forum Manor LLP are named as defendants.
Rolla is 105 miles southwest of St. Louis.