Landlord Who Settled 2 Sex Harassment Lawsuits Charged With Violating Order

An upstate New York landlord was arrested Monday, charged with violating court orders after he was found lurking in tenants' yards, breaching an agreement to avoid his properties and tenants, authorities said.

In 2019, Doug Waterbury, 60, agreed to pay $850,000 and stay away from his tenants to settle two separate federal sexual harassment lawsuits. The lawsuits alleged that Waterbury demanded sexual favors from former and prospective tenants including unwanted sexual intercourse, sexual comments and nonconsensual touching and advances.

The suits also alleged Waterbury offered to reduce or eliminate rent and security deposits in exchange for sexual contact, and that he also threatened to kick out residents if they rejected his advances.

The U.S. Department of Justice and CNY Fair Housing interviewed more than 50 people who alleged that Waterbury sexually harassed them over the past 30 years, Syracuse.com reported.

The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from facing discrimination while seeking a home, mortgage or housing assistance. The act also prohibits landlords from harassing or sexually harassing a tenant.

A common form of sexual harassment in housing is referred to as "quid pro quo," in which a landlord tells a tenant they won't rent to them if they do not engage in sexual acts. Sexual harassment also includes creating a hostile environment by subjecting a tenant to nonconsensual sexual conduct.

On Monday, Oswego police arrested Waterbury, charging him with second-degree criminal contempt after, police said, he was caught lurking in the yard of one of his properties. He is due in city court later this month.

Before his arrest, Syracuse.com reported that Waterbury was sanctioned by the U.S. District Court after he was found in violation of the agreement. He was also fined $15,000, accused of showing up at tenants' doors and hovering in parking lots and yards, according to court documents.

Waterbury had to pay $350,000 of the settlement by August 15, 2021, but days before it was due, he said he could only afford to pay $100,000. While he did end up paying the $350,000, he missed the August 15 deadline, according to Syracuse.com.

He was also told he must hire a property manager and create a sexual harassment policy, but did not do either by his deadline, court documents said.

At the moment, Waterbury oversees 50 units near the State University of New York at Morrisville and a large number of units in Oswego. He also owns several amusement parks and the Renaissance Festival in Sterling, New York.

"No woman should have to endure harassment and discrimination to obtain housing," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Grant C. Jaquith said in a news release. "Landlords who sexually harass their tenants in our district will be held accountable under the Fair Housing Act."

Since October 2017, the Justice Department has filed 10 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in the housing sector, and since January 2017 has filed or settled 15 sexual harassment cases and recovered more than $2.6 million for sexual harassment victims in housing cases.

Newsweek contacted the Oswego Police Department, but did not receive comment in time for publication.

Landlord charged with criminal contempt
A landlord in Oswego, New York, was arrested Monday, accused of violating an agreement stating he would no longer go near his tenants or properties after two sexual harassment lawsuits were filed against him, authorities said. Sean Gallup/Getty Images