A Las Vegas landlord forced a homeless mother of five to sign a sex contract in exchange for housing, according to a lawsuit being fought in federal court.
Landlord Allan Rothstein preyed on the family’s desperation, according to court documents. In 2018, mom Candy Torres and her children were living week to week without reliable shelter in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were finally approved for a housing voucher through Section 8, a federal program that funds local public housing authorities to help low-income families rent from private landlords.
“One of the provisions of Section 8 is that once you’re approved, you have to find a residence that will be covered by the program within about 60 days of when you’re approved,” said housing lawyer Bruce Flammey to KTNV-TV, analyzing Torres’s case for the local station.
As a result, the mom might have seen no option but to sign Rothstein’s required forms. One of these had the title, “Direct Consent for Sexual Intercourse and or Fellatio or Cunnilingus.”
The form said that Torres “hereby and freely gives their total consent” to sexual activities with Rothstein, court documents said.
A bizarre clause required the tenant to promise that she “does not currently have a boyfriend/girlfriend/parent who is larger, meaner, and more physically aggressive, owns firearms and/or is more possessive than [Rothstein].”
Another requirement had Torres swear that she was not signing “under the influence of an incapacitating intoxicant, aphrodisiacs, or psychoactive substances, including but not limited to, alcohol, drugs, oysters, Bremelanotide, truffles, sea cucumber, strawberries, lobster, dark chocolate, Cocaine, LSD, cannabis or any other mind-altering chemical or substance, nor have they been given the same by [Rothstein].” Bremelanotide, also known as Vyleesi, is a medication that treats low sexual desire in premenopausal women.
“This is a legal contract the way the actors on Grey’s Anatomy are real doctors,” said Flammey. “This is literally not worth the paper it’s printed on.”
In addition to coercion, Torres’s lawsuit accused the landlord of charging illegal fees and wrongfully evicting her family after she refused sexual encounters.
An affordable housing crisis is driving the threat of eviction to the doorstep of more and more Americans. The majority of U.S. adults say that affordable housing is a serious problem where they live, according to a survey published this month from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Over the past year, 21 percent of Native American renters, 16 percent of Black renters, 10 percent of Latino renters and 9 percent of white renters said they have either been evicted or threatened with eviction, the poll found.
In March, a New York landlord was arrested for lurking in tenants’ yards and violating a court order from 2019, when he was found to demand sexual favors in return for reduced or eliminated rent.
Last December, a New Jersey landlord was ordered to pay a $4.4 million settlement and banned from owning or managing rental properties after he was accused of demanding sex from his low-income tenants to stop evictions.
And in 2019, a Massachusetts landlord was accused of sexually harassing female tenants and refusing to assist with maintenance after they rejected his advances.
Newsweek reached out to the United States District Court of Nevada for comment.