(CN) - The district manager and a maintenance worker at a low-income apartment complex in West Virginia used their unfettered access to its units to sexually harass several female residents, a lawsuit filed by their alleged victims says.
In a complaint filed in the federal court in Charleston, W. Va., the five women claim that Anthony James, manager of the Perkins Parke Apartments, and Christopher James, its maintenance man, repeatedly entered their residences without permission, and for the sole purpose of coercing them into sex.
During these encounters, the women claim, both men offered them tangible housing benefits in exchange for sex, subjected them to unwanted touching, exposed their bodies in a sexual manner and force them to engage in unwanted sexual acts.
In addition, the women say, the two men repeatedly sent them texts, asking for sex, and sent the police to the homes of those women who did not grant them sexual favors.
Two of the five victims further claim the men engaged in this conduct despite the presence of young children in the home.
The women say they reported these incidents to another manager at the property, Kisha James, but that rather than do anything about them, she instead retaliated against the alleged victims, by threatening to issue notices of lease violations against the plaintiffs, and demanding they make duplicate rent payments.
The federal government, which is waging the case on the women's behalf, says defendants Encore Management Co. Inc., and Perkins Parke Limited Partnership, negligently hired the other defendants, should have known of the discriminatory behavior they were engaged in, and therefore should have taken preventive and corrective action, but failed to do so.
Eventually, the complaint says, the women complained to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which initiated an investigation of their allegations. When it was completed the agency concluded "reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred."
The government seeks compensatory damages for the women and that a civil penalty be levied on the defendants on claims they violated Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the later Fair Housing Amendments Act.
Gary Call, assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, is prosecuting the case.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.