Bakersfield landlord to pay $2M in sex lawsuit
BAKERSFIELD — A landlord has agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he traded housing benefits for sex and retaliated against women who refused his advances, federal officials said Tuesday.
The settlement is the largest ever for a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the federal government under the Fair Housing Act, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The government alleged Rawland Leon Sorensen, of Bakersfield, harassed women over the past decade, made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to current and prospective tenants, exposed his genitals, groped female tenants, and entered their residences without permission or notice.
Sorensen, 80, also allegedly granted or offered to grant housing benefits — such as reducing the rent, overlooking or excusing late or unpaid rent, purchasing new appliances, and forestalling or terminating eviction proceedings — in exchange for sexual favors. He evicted some women who refused the advances, authorities said.