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The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against Ariel Solis Veleta, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for sexually harassing female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Solis was employed as a leasing agent and property manager at St. Anthony Plaza Apartments in Albuquerque between 2010 and 2022.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, alleges that between 2010 and 2022, Solis requested sex acts from female tenants, subjected female tenants to unwelcome sexual touching, made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to female tenants, locked female tenants in his office to demand sex acts, demanded that female tenants engage in sex acts with him in order not to lose housing and entered female tenants’ homes in the guise of conducting property management work to demand sex acts.

“The Justice Department is firmly committed to holding property managers and landlords accountable when they abuse their power and prey on vulnerable tenants,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This action represents our latest effort to ensure that no one lives in fear of experiencing sexual harassment in their home.” 

“Women and children deserve to live free from sexual predation,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “And everybody deserves safe and affordable housing for their families. When property managers use their power over housing as a weapon to extort sexual favors from tenants, they exploit one fundamental right in order to violate another. Our office is committed to protecting both the sanctuary of the home and the basic human rights of tenants. These cases are made possible by the bravery of tenants. I thank each of the alleged victims for having the courage to come forward and to tell their story.”

“Every person deserves to feel safe in their homes without facing the threat of being sexually harassed or abused by a property manager or others who have control over housing,” said Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “Victims should not hesitate to report such harassment and abuse to law enforcement authorities. HUD’s Office of Inspector General (HUD OIG) will continue to work with our prosecutorial and law enforcement partners to hold housing providers accountable for this type of depraved conduct.”

The lawsuit also names as defendants the owners of St. Anthony Plaza Apartments, St. Anthony Limited Partnership and PacifiCap Holdings XXXVIII LLC and Solis’ employer, PacifiCap Properties Group LLC. It also seeks monetary damages to compensate persons harmed by the alleged harassment, a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest and a court order barring future discrimination.

The Justice Department and HUD OIG jointly investigated the case.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. It also prohibits sexual harassment, a form of sex discrimination. Individuals who believe they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination by Ariel Solis or at St. Anthony Plaza Apartments, or who have information that may be relevant to this case, may contact the Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291. Individuals may also send an email to [email protected] or may submit a report online.

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The initiative seeks to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers and other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative in October 2017, the department has filed 39 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered nearly $12 million for victims of such harassment.