Chicago Landlord Pays $180,000 for Sexual Harassment

A Chicago landlord who tried to evict female tenants who denied his sexual advances must sell his building and pay $180,000 in damages and civil penalties under an agreement reached in December with the Justice Department.

The consent decree was signed in December by Judge Ruben Castillo in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It resolves a March 1993 suit filed by the Justice Department alleging that Gheorghi Nedialkov engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The suit is only the second case in the country ever filed in federal court alleging a pattern of sexual harassment in housing.

The suit accused Nedialkov of demanding sex, touching female tenants, offering rent reduction in exchange for sex and attempting to evict women who denied his advances or reported him to authorities.

"No woman should feel unsafe in her own home," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "The Decree is a significant victory for these victims and sends a message to all unscrupulous landlords that sexual harassment of tenants c an violate federal law."

The Justice Department became aware of the allegations after Frentzee Cacok, a tenant in the building, filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD discovered that the local Lawyer's Committee for Better Housing, had already sued Nedialkov on behalf of three other female complainants. In January 1993 HUD sent the case to the Justice Department, which investigated the incidents, discovered an additional female victim, and filed its federal suit. A sixth f emale victim was later identified.

The decree prohibits Nedialkov from managing any apartment building for at least four years and mandates that he sell the building. It restricts him from entering the building unless he is accompanied by representatives of the management company and forb ids him from talking with tenants. It further requires him to pay $150,000 in damages to the six women and $30,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury. The agreement resolves the suit filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing.