A settlement agreement has been reached between Hickory’s public housing agency and the five tenants that accused a former administrator of “trading rent money for sexual favors.” According to court records, the settlement comes almost two years after reports of detailed allegations of “sexual harassment and misspending at the Hickory Public Housing Authority” began pouring in.
When people rent apartments or homes, they’re typically just looking for a safe place to live their lives for awhile. And while sometimes the rental market can be competitive, the last thing anyone should have to do is trade sexual favors for a home. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what five tenants claim happened to them, so they filed a lawsuit. Now, a settlement agreement has been reached between Hickory’s public housing agency and the five tenants that accused a former administrator of “trading rent money for sexual favors.” According to court records, the settlement comes almost two years after reports of detailed allegations of “sexual harassment and misspending at the Hickory Public Housing Authority” began pouring in.
For a bit of background on the situation, many women claimed that they were harassed by Montele Burton, the former property operations manager at Hickory’s public housing agency. Before his time with the Hickory Public Housing Authority, Burton hopped around to at least six different housing agencies throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. In addition to the harassment, he allegedly made threats against them and “offered help with their rent in exchange for sexual encounters.” Even three previous employees of the company ended up filing complaints with federal officials back in 2015, claiming “Executive Director Alanda Richardson was aware of the harassment but did not move to stop it.”
According to the Charlotte Observer, in one case, a 23-year-old single mother claimed Burton “stalked her by going through her laundry, coming to her unit after hours and watching her home from a parking lot.” Another tenant alleged that Burton “propositioned her while touching himself.” Apparently, “he told her she could provide him sexual favors instead of paying rent.” In both instances, the women reported the behavior to the Housing Authority, and both times the agency failed to take action against the harassment.
While Burton and the Housing Authority have continued to deny the accusations against them and “made no admission of guilt as part of the settlement agreement,” Burton will be prohibited from “working with tenants at any agency that receives money from the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” the department that oversees public housing. So essentially, it will be hard for Burton to find a job similar to his position at the Hickory Public Housing Authority.
As for the settlement agreement, it calls for the “Housing Authority to create a new sexual harassment policy and conduct training annually for at least five years” to ensure that something like what happened to the five tenants never happens again. For now, the housing agency will “make payments into a settlement fund,” according to court records.