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DOJ files lawsuit against Ohio landlord accused of sexually harassing tenants over 11-year period

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday against an Ohio landlord who is accused of sexually harassing female tenants over the past 11 years.

Joseph Pedaline, 71, is accused of violating the Fair Housing Act after he allegedly sexually harassed multiple women at residential properties that he owned or managed in the Youngstown, Ohio, area from at least 2009 to at least 2020, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The civil complaint alleges that Pedaline repeatedly made sexual comments, touched female tenants without their consent, entered female tenants’ homes without permission, and offered to overlook late rent payments – or waive payments altogether – in exchange for sexual favors.

Pedaline is also accused of evicting tenants, or threatening to do so, if they refused his advances, the lawsuit states.

“Too often tenants with limited housing options are preyed upon by landlords, maintenance staff and others who have control over where they live,” U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio said in a news release. “This lawsuit sends a message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate the exploitation of our vulnerable community members.”

Other tenants who believe they were sexually harassed by Pedaline, or who have information relevant to the suit, can call the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291, press 1 for English, press 2 for sexual harassment and then press 01 for United States v. Joseph Pedaline to leave a message.

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