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Tenant sues Oswego Pointe, claims pattern of harassment

Greg Zagel says he was a target of religious and sexual discrimination, and that apartment managers did nothing to stop it

A resident of Oswego Pointe claims in a lawsuit filed in June that he was subjected to ongoing harassment by the apartment complex’s former activities director and that management did nothing to stop a string of physical threats and profanity-laced emails.

The lawsuit, filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries on behalf of resident Greg Zagel, accuses the apartment complex’s California-based owners, Oswego Lender, of unlawful housing practices, including discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation.

The lawsuit claims Zagel suffered and continues to suffer “fear, embarrassment, sadness, anger, humiliation, confusion, stress, anxiety and a sense of increased vulnerability.” It seeks $300,000 in damages and additional civil penalties.

Zagel, who is still a resident of the apartments, told The Review this week that he preferred not to comment. Calls to Oswego Pointe Apartments and to Oswego Lender, which does business in Oregon as Prime Group, were not returned.

According to the lawsuit, the apartment complex’s former activities director, Thomas Rainey, subjected Zagel to systematic verbal abuse, starting around June 26, 2010; the lawsuit also says Zagel’s vehicle was vandalized on two occasions. According to Zagel, the two men had been friends until Zagel declined Rainey’s invitation to attend his church.

Zagel says he complained by letter to Oswego Pointe’s then-Community Manager, Kim Novak, that Rainey had begun slandering him by telling other tenants Zagel was “a sinner” and that he led “a non-Christian lifestyle.” He also claimed Rainey had “threatened him with clenched fists” and that he became afraid he would be physically attacked.

Zagel details a series of emails he says he received from Rainey, many of them aggressive and filled with profanities. One email tells Zagel to “watch your back,” while another asks, “How’s your health?” One tells Zagel that “Jesus died for you,” while another reminds him that “Jesus loves you.” All came from Rainey’s personal email account.

Zagel says he told Novak that he had a right to live free of religious persecution and harassment and informed her that he wanted the harassment to stop. But according to the lawsuit, Oswego Pointe administrators dismissed the emails and did nothing to discipline Rainey. In fact, the lawsuit alleges, the only response Zagel received to his complaints was a July 8, 2010, letter from Oswego Lenders’ attorney, Daniel Yampolski, asking him to retract the statements he made in the letter to Novak.

Zagel refused, saying his complaint was valid and that he was justified in reporting Rainey’s behavior. At that point, Zagel claims, the harassment escalated to threats of violence and in July 2011, Rainey physically blocked Zagel in the complex’s Internet cafe and threatened to strike him. In August 2011, Zagel says his car was vandalized, with the number “666” scratched into a number of places.

In September 2011, Zagel signed a housing discrimination complaint against Oswego Pointe based on Rainey’s alleged conduct and Oswego Pointe’s alleged failure to stop it. A month later, “666” was again scratched onto his car.

According to the lawsuit, Zagel again complained to the apartment complex’s administrators, who acknowledged in a letter that they were aware that Zagel was in fear of his safety but that that Rainey had denied wrongdoing.

Zagel met with lawyers for the Bureau of Labor and Industries in November 2011. The bureau filed the lawsuit June 16 on Zagel’s behalf; BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian is listed as the plaintiff.

“We did conduct a thorough investigation and we did find evidence of unlawful discrimination,” bureau spokesman Charlie Burr said.

In addition to $300,000 in damages and additional civil penalties, the lawsuit asks the court to order the defendants not to engage in existing or future violations of fair housing laws.

Rainey now works as activities director for one of Oswego Pointe’s sister properties, Wimbledon Square and Gardens in Southeast Portland. He directed all inquiries to his attorney, Joseph Hadad, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or ssorenson@lakeoswegoreview.com.


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