MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal jury awarded $70,500 in damages to six women in a sexual harassment lawsuit against their landlord in Lexington, Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

After a four-day trial, a jury found that Chad Ables sexually harassed the women at his properties in or near his trailer park known as Pop’s Cove. The trial, originally scheduled for May 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in Dec. 2018 stated Ables subjected the women to a continued barrage of vulgar sexual comments, unwelcome physical touching, propositions for sex, and offers to reduce their rent in exchange for sex since 2012.

The DOJ said the lawsuit was filed after two women filed a sexual harassment complaint about Ables with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD investigated the complaints before referring them to the DOJ.

Both women intervened in the lawsuit and the DOJ later sought relief on behalf of five additional women. One of the women who intervened later dropped out of the lawsuit.

The women were awarded compensatory damages for emotional harm suffered as a result of Ables’ conduct and punitive damages to punish Ables.

“No one should have to endure sexual harassment in order to have a safe and secure living
situation,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “I am gratified the jury held this landlord accountable for these unlawful acts.”

The Department of Justice said it also plans to seek a civil penalty against Ables to vindicate public interest along with a court order that prevents Ables from managing rental properties or having contact with residents or prospective tenants.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment by a landlord, property manager, or rental agent, contact the Department of Justice at 1-844-380-6178 or submit a report at civilrights.justice.gov. You can also reach out to the HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or file a complaint here.