A Davenport landlord is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit filed Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Southern District of Iowa.
The lawsuit alleges that Juan Goitia, the sole owner of 908 Bridge Cooperative, an Iowa corporation formed in 2011 that owns at least nine multi-family rental properties in Davenport, sexually harassed a female tenant from March 2018 through August 2018 when she canceled her lease and moved.
According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court, Davenport, in March 2018 the victim signed a lease with 908 Bridge Cooperative to rent a unit.
The victim paid the first two months’ rent, a security deposit and a pet deposit when she signed the lease.
From March through July 2018, Goitia is alleged to have offered the victim massages, making unwelcome comments of a sexual nature as well as asking about her sexual experiences with her boyfriend; propositioning the victim, including asking her if she had ever thought of “having something on the side;” and repeatedly knocking on the victim’s door late at night or entering her apartment without permission or justification, even when she was in the shower, and reaching under the victim’s skirt and touching her.
The victim filed a report with the Davenport Police Department in June of 2018. The victim also was able to obtain an order of protection from Scott County District Court that ordered Goitia to stop “committing further acts of sexual abuse or threats of sexual abuse.”
The victim also filed a fair housing complaint against Goitia with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development based on Goitia’s alleged sexual harassment throughout her tenancy.
After the case was investigated by both the Davenport Civil Rights Commission and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the case was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The lawsuit is seeking money damages to compensate the victim and an order barring future discrimination. The suit’s allegations must be proven in court.
In an news release issued Monday, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said: “No woman should have to endure sexual harassment to keep her home. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department will vigorously pursue those who engage in such reprehensible and illegal conduct.”
In that same new release, Assistant Secretary Anna Maria Farias of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office said: “Women have a hard enough time finding a decent affordable place to live without having to be subjected to unwanted sexual advances. HUD applauds the action the Justice Department is taking in this matter and remains committed to working together to protect the housing rights of women when those rights are violated.”