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Manchester landlord accused of sexually harassing tenants

The Justice Department has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a Manchester landlord for sexually harassing female tenants and housing applicants.

The federal complaint alleges that Fred Wheeler sexually harassed tenants of a Lewiston rental property between 2017 and 2022.

Wheeler is accused of entering rental units without consent, conditioning a rental agreement on a romantic relationship, and offering to forgive unpaid rent in exchange for sex.

These were not isolated incidents, the justice department argues, but a longstanding practice of sexual harassment.

The rental property was owned by Wheeler's company, Landscape Center of Maine, which is also named in the complaint. It seeks monetary damages, civil penalties and a court order barring future violations.

Anyone who may have information about this case can contact the department by calling 207-780-3257 or emailing USAME-FairHousing@usa.doj.gov.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.