Chicopee’s landlord from hell is out of the property management business. But his long, loathsome decade of preying on women tenants must not be forgotten.
This is the heinous behavior that Salazar Dos Santos admits to, in a legal settlement disclosed this week:
For 11 years, he sexually harassed women living in properties he controlled in Chicopee. Not just once. Some women reported dozens of harassing encounters; one tenant said he pressed her for sex more than 40 times.
It wasn’t all ugly talk, though even that would be a blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act. Dos Santos physically assaulted tenants. He exposed himself to women. He locked them in his office to sexually assault them.
And according to the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Dos Santos evicted women who refused to comply with his demands for sex.
Yes, renting from Dos Santos was a horror show. The settlement bars him from ever managing residential property again.
This was more than “unwelcome” contact. Dos Santos subjected women to what U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins called “repugnant” and insidious harassment. In a statement, Rollins praised the women who came forward to expose Dos Santos’ wrongdoing.
Little is more sacred than a sense of safety, and peace, at home. As this case makes clear, Dos Santos made life hell for women who rented from the entity involved, identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as the Trusts of Salazar Dos Santos and America Dos Santos. The new consent decree puts those properties under the control of an independent manager. Dos Santos is out of business.
Is this just the case of one bad landlord? Perhaps, but as an assistant attorney general noted this week, Dos Santos was only an extreme example of the kind of sexual harassment and coercion women can encounter every day.
Dos Santos will pay a financial price, but it’s one that falls far short of the punishment he deserves, in our view.
In settling a lawsuit brought against him by the Department of Justice, Dos Santos will pay $425,000 to compensate tenants he subjected to his extortionate demands. With a $25,000 civil penalty as well. Our legal system uses dollars to balance wrongs, but given his 11 years of predatory behavior, it seems hardly enough.