Federal prosecutors are investigating reports of housing-related sexual harassment, with the U.S. Attorney in Boston citing reports of landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments "with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct."
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced early Wednesday afternoon that U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed regional U.S. attorneys to investigate conduct that could violate anti-discrimination provisions in the Fair Housing Act.
"Sexual harassment in housing is illegal and despicable," Lelling said in a statement. "No person should have to tolerate this behavior in order to keep a roof over his or her head. This conduct is unacceptable in normal times, and certainly will not be tolerated in the midst of a pandemic. My office will aggressively investigate these cases."
Millions of people have lost their jobs nationwide, creating economic hardship, due to business shutdowns and social distancing guidelines put in place by government officials to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Lelling also released public service announcements encouraging victims to get in touch with prosecutors.