Ohio landlord settles harassment case for $1M

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CINCINNATI (AP) - A former landlord agreed to pay $1 million to settle a case alleging he sexually harassed female tenants and entered their apartments without permission, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

James G. Mitchell and his company, Land Baron Enterprises, will pay $890,000 to 12 women and a $110,000 civil penalty for violating the Fair Housing Act, Justice Department officials in Washington said.

It's the largest settlement the department has obtained in a sexual harassment case under the act, which protects renters, officials said.

The government sued Mitchell last year in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, alleging that Mitchell made sexual comments, touched women sexually without permission, entered their apartments without permission or notice, and retaliated against those who resisted his advances.

"These women were subjected to blatant, threatening and unwanted sexual advances in their homes," Grace Chung Becker, an acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement. "While nothing can fully compensate for the pain that these women experienced, this $1 million settlement reflects the gravity of the alleged conduct."

The agreement, which also orders Mitchell not to discriminate in the future, is subject to court approval. In the agreement, Mitchell and his company admitted violating the fair housing act, officials said.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday for Mitchell's attorney, Kenneth Montgomery Jr.

Mitchell managed properties in Cincinnati and communities in nearby Butler County. Justice Department officials said Mitchell no longer owns or operates any rental properties.

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