A handicapped woman has sued a Salt Lake City apartment complex and its owner for discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act and Utah Fair Housing Act.
But the owner said the matter had been investigated by the Utah Industrial Commission's Anti-Discrimination Division and investigators found that her claims were baseless.Lisa Davidson alleges that the Northpoint Apartments manager, Don Olin, sexually harassed her and the father of her two children; threatened her with eviction; and made false reports to police and social workers that she was running a drug lab, kept a filthy, cockroach-ridden place and abused her two children.
She contends the owner of the complex, Glen Vander Werff, did nothing to stop the harassment and, in response to her objections about the manager's behavior, that Vander Werff retaliated against her when she filed a formal complaint.
Davidson also said in court documents that she was forced to leave even though she had not found another place for her family to live.
However, Vander Werff said he checked with Olin and his wife, Lori, as soon as he heard Davidson's complaints about sexual harassment.
"When I found out, I was shocked. I immediately went to ask him and his wife and they both totally denied it. Then, after we had gotten into this several months later, she (Davidson) changed her story to include some accusations against me."
Vander Werff alleges that the state's Anti-Discrimination Division investigated the matter thoroughly. "They came to the conclusion that she had no case."
He said he thinks Davidson is simply seeking money.
Vander Werff said Davidson came to live in the complex when he was searching for a handicapped person to live there.
"I was directed to Lisa Davidson who was living in Ogden. She lived in very difficult circumstances and needed to be closer to the University of Utah for treatment for her condition. I made arrangements for her to move in there," he said.
Vander Werff said he asked Davidson what she needed to make the place suitable for someone with special needs, and she gave him a list of things to do that eventually cost $2,000 including adding steel ramps, steel railings, bathroom modifications and other changes. "She was so delighted, she said everything was perfect."
Vander Werff said he knew that Davidson and Olin were good friends and partied together but said he had no knowledge of any sexual harassment or illegal behavior.
Davidson began renting at Northpoint Apartments in 1995, but was forced to leave in 1997, according to court documents.
Davidson has spinal cerebellum degeneration which has caused nerve damage and requires her to use a wheelchair.
Michael Tanner, the father of Davidson's children, volunteered to move in during the summer of 1996 to help her with such tasks as using the bathroom at night or taking care of the children, according to court documents.
The Salt Lake County Housing Authority, Northpoint and Vander Werff, agreed to this arrangement, according to documents filed in 3rd District Court.
However, Davidson contends in her suit that Olin, "repeatedly made offensive and unwelcome sexual comments to Davidson and Tanner, solicited Davidson for sexual favors and requested that Tanner participate in offensive and degrading sex acts."
When she complained to Vander Werff about Olin's behavior, Davidson's suit said, she was met with a variety of retaliatory actions.
She alleges Vander Werff or Olin made a false report to police that there was a drug lab in her apartment and later that Olin had reported she held drug-related parties there.
Police searches showed no drug-related activities, the court document said. "The police officers reported, however, that Olin had been the person who had made the false report to the police," the lawsuit said.
A social services representative also inspected the apartment, interviewed Davidson and checked the children, but "determined there was no basis" for allegations of child abuse, the suit said.
In her suit, Davidson said she suffered emotional and physical distress because of these incidents and that her rights were violated. She is asking for compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at a trial.