(STL.News) – As the country adopts drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Americans have lost their jobs and many more have seen their wages curtailed. These losses have forced many to seek abatements or suspensions of their rent, with reports that nearly one third of Americans were unable to pay their April rent at the beginning of the month.
Many landlords have responded to these circumstances with understanding and care, trying to work with their tenants to weather the current crisis. However, there have been reports of other landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct. Such behavior is despicable and it is illegal.
Unfortunately, most victims who experience this type of abuse never report it. They fear retaliation will endanger their ability to provide shelter for themselves and their families.
United States Attorney Mathew Schneider stated, “Predatory practices related to COVID-19 are particularly disturbing as these landlords exploit our current national crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing.”