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 complexs 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 Oregons Bureau of Labor and Industries on behalf of resident Greg Zagel, accuses the apartment complexs 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 complexs former activities director, Thomas Rainey, subjected Zagel to systematic verbal abuse, starting around June 26, 2010; the lawsuit also says Zagels vehicle was vandalized on two occasions. According to Zagel, the two men had been friends until Zagel declined Raineys invitation to attend his church.
Zagel says he complained by letter to Oswego Pointes 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, Hows your health? One tells Zagel that Jesus died for you, while another reminds him that Jesus loves you. All came from Raineys 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 Raineys behavior. At that point, Zagel claims, the harassment escalated to threats of violence and in July 2011, Rainey physically blocked Zagel in the complexs 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 Raineys alleged conduct and Oswego Pointes 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 complexs 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 Zagels 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 Pointes 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT