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Lawsuit: Handymen Traded Sex For Repairs In Public Housing

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maintenance workers were trading sex for repairs in public housing units. Those are the allegations in a new $70 million federal lawsuit just filed against the Baltimore Housing Authority. Seven women says they are victims of the abuse.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the disturbing suit.

The allegations uncovered by the group Communities United claim maintenance workers would only make repairs in exchange for sex acts.

Crumbling ceilings, peeling paint and rat infestations.

"They are living with black mold and holes big enough for the outside in," said former resident Trina Ashley.

But some women say a pair of public housing maintenance men refused to fix the life-threatening conditions unless they performed sex acts.

"To think on top of all that, someone would have the audacity to come in and proposition a woman," said Perry Hopkins, Communities United.

Now a multi-million dollar lawsuit is filed against the city.

"These women, many of them have complained not just to Gilmor housing but to the Housing Authority and they've gotten no response," said attorney Annie Hirsch.

WJZ has obtained affidavits from the seven alleged victims detailing the abuse.

In one, a single mother says the maintenance supervisor told her to come to his office if she wanted repairs. When she got there, she says he "pushed himself back from his desk, exposed himself and said, `What can you do with this?'"

Another woman says when she refused sex with that same supervisor, he told her, "You don't want to get with me? You think you are having problems now, just wait."

In a statement to WJZ, Housing Authority officials say "HABC considers any employee actions that would subject its residents to sexual abuse or sexual harassment to be reprehensible."

Still, some say neighbors have complained for years.

"She said, `Well, I know who it is.' She said, `I had reported it and nothing had been done,'" said Gilmor resident Joeann Spears.

A situation victims say has them scared in their own homes.

Housing officials are conducting an internal investigation into the complaints.

The two maintenance workers named in the lawsuit were moved to a different facility.

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