20 women who filed a lawsuit against the Housing Authority of Baltimore City are splitting a settlement worth almost $8 million. The lawsuit alleged that maintenance workers at various housing complexes had demanded sexual favors from the women in exchange for receiving badly needed repairs on their units.
If the women did not agree, the maintenance requests would go ignored, exposing residents to unsafe conditions. According to NBC, a resident of the Gilmor Homes housing project said that Clinton Coleman, a maintenance supervisor, and Michael Robertson, another worker, demanded sex when the woman asked them to get rid of a bug infestation and fix her pipes. As punishment for her refusal, she had no heat in her apartment for two years. One young mother said she had sex with Coleman because she had feared for the safety of her daughter. “I was scared and ashamed,” the woman said. “I tried to forget about the incident.” Each time the woman needed something repaired, Coleman demanded sex.
The woman stated, “Mr. Coleman exercises significant control over the community. In addition to withholding repairs and making physical threats, his crews can make complaints that may result in residents losing their homes. I have no place to go and my daughter I would be homeless if this happened.”
“These Housing Authority employees routinely harass and abuse the vulnerable women in public housing,” the lawsuit stated. “By refusing to perform repairs without sexual quid pro quo, these defendants are subjecting the tenants to to life-threatening living conditions.” At least 50 workers who worked at the complexes, including Gilmor Homes, Westport and Govans Manor projects, have been terminated. “Every single abuser we could identify has been fired,” Cary Hansel, the attorney representing the women, said at a press conference on Friday.
No charges have been filed against the workers, but a criminal investigation has been launched. The women were also given Section 8 vouchers in order to relocate, the Baltimore Sun reports.
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Photo of Gilmor Homes project via Getty.