A whopping 20 women have just made an $8 million settlement with the city of Baltimore after claiming to be sexually abused and harassed by employees at the local housing authority.
Women of the Gilmor Homes, Westport and Govans Manor projects of West Baltimore say they were forced into having sex with housing authority workers to make badly-needed repairs on their homes. If they refused to give sexual favors, the women were subject to dangerous living situations that put them at risk of electrocution, lack of heat and mold consumption.
One woman claimed that she surrendered to unwanted sexual advances from her building’s maintenance supervisor, Clinton Coleman, because she was concerned for the safety of her daughter.
“I was scared and ashamed,” the young mother she said. “I tried to forget about the incident.”
The mother was forced to have sex with Coleman whenever she wanted a repair made to her home. She eventually learned that other women were being preyed on by Coleman as well.
A second woman said she had to live without heat in her apartment for two years because she refused to have sex with Coleman and another employee, Michael Robertson, when she requested an extermination and repairs for her pipes.
In addition to being awarded money from the lawsuit, the women who have come forward with complaints will receive Section 8 vouchers that can help them relocate. Fifty of the housing authority employees that have been accused of sexually abusing local residents have been fired and are now under a criminal investigation.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been getting heat to fire City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano while Graziano is being pressured into resigning for the scandal. Graziano has held his office for 15 years. Graziano has yet to give an explanation for the abuse suffered by the women, commenting that he is dedicated to resolving the issue and to making the people of Baltimore feel safe in their homes.
Rawlings-Blake echoed Graziano’s commentary, saying that the settlement that was reached with the plaintiffs shows Graziano’s invested interest in citizens’ wellbeing. She also claims to support his ideas on improving the housing developments.
This settlement is being considered the largest in a sexual harassment case under the Fair Housing Act.