Trump Administration Announces New Anti-Sexual Harassment Initiative as Democrats Seek to Distance Themselves From Weinstein

'No woman should be made to feel unsafe in her own home'

Harvey Weinstein / Getty Images
October 7, 2017

The Trump administration announced a new initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing, as Democrats are working to distance themselves from megadonor and accused sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein.

The Department of Justice announced the new pilot program this week that will join local law enforcement and public housing authorities in fighting sex discrimination by landlords.

"The initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department's efforts to protect women from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards, and other employees and representatives of rental property owners," the administration said. "As part of the initiative, the Department will work to identify barriers to reporting sexual harassment to the Department and other enforcement agencies, and will collaborate with local law enforcement, legal services providers, and public housing authorities to leverage their expertise."

The initiative will start with awareness programs in Washington, D.C., and western Virginia.

The Department of Justice also announced its recent successes in prosecuting sexual harassment cases in housing. The Civil Rights Division said it filed or settled five cases and recovered over $1 million for victims of sexual harassment, including a case where 14 victims were subjected to unwanted sexual conduct in Kansas City.

"The Department's complaint alleged in part that an employee of the housing authority subjected women to unwanted sexual conduct as a condition for favorable hearing decisions, including asking them sexual questions, showing pornographic pictures and videos, making explicit sexual comments, and exposing himself," the administration said.

The announcement came just days before the New York Times reported that Weinstein—who has donated over $600,000 to Democrats and was a major backer of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—has a lengthy history of sexual harassment and assault allegations. The allegations include that he "badgered" a woman "into giving him a massage while he was naked" and grabbed a woman's breasts "after asking if they were real."

More and more Democrats are now distancing themselves from the movie mogul, and by Friday at least six serving senators said they would be donating thousands of dollars in contributions from Weinstein to various women's groups.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said, "no woman should be made to feel unsafe in her own home."

"The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the Fair Housing Act's ban on sexual harassment and is looking forward to working closely with state and local partners to combat this problem," he said.