Via AP Business

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man accused of sexually harassing 17 female renters or home buyers is settling a lawsuit with the government by paying the women $550,000 and exiting the real estate business.

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it resolved its lawsuit with Robert Hatfield of Wilkesboro accusing him of violating federal fair housing and credit laws.

The agreement Hatfield signed earlier this month specifies that he denies groping tenants and offering to cut or erase down payments or unpaid rent in exchange for sexual favors.

The settlement permanently bars Hatfield from the rental, sale, or financing of residential properties. He’s required to give up his ownership in all rental properties.

The Justice Department said the lawsuit is one of nine nationwide since 2017 that attacked sexual harassment in housing.

READ ALSO  SE: Coca-Cola European Agrees to Buy Australia's CC Amatil