Apartment Manager Accused of Exchanging Rent for Sex

Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-01 22:50:29-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- The manager of a West Michigan apartment complex accused of sexually harassing female residents is now facing federal charges.

FOX 17 has learned at least 10 women have come forward accusing Alger Meadow Apartments property manager Dale VanderVennen of letting himself into their apartments unannounced and asking for sexual favors in exchange for rent.

The accusations have led to a federal lawsuit against him and the owners of the complex.

The woman who was first to come forward with the allegations says the alleged crimes went on for years.  She says she wanted to come forward because she was molested as a child and couldn’t speak up then but will now.

She says she contacted the Fair Housing Center reporting the activity she says happened at Alger Meadow Apartments throughout the last few years.

“The first thing was he asked me for sexual favors in my bedroom while he was fixing something,” the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

She said he propositioned her, telling her people do things for him and don’t have to pay rent.

She also tells us he would come in unannounced when she would be in the bathroom or bedroom changing.

The Federal complaint alleges VanderVennen’s harassment included unwelcome sexual advances, touching residents without their consent and denying housing benefits based on gender in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

The woman we spoke with says she only knows of one set of men in the apartments.  She says most residents are black women with children.

The complaint charges Jack and Linda VanderVennen, Dale’s brother and sister-in-law and owners of the complex, along with DDJ Rental Real Estate and Calcutta Associates stating they knew or should have known of his discriminatory conduct.

We called him and went to his house and received no response.

The woman we spoke with says he would show up to her apartment on the first of the month to collect rent.

“You don’t have to pay it if you do this or that,” she says he told her.

She says she’s terrified to testify in court but she’s doing it to set an example for other women and for her children.

This is a civil case, which means no one is facing jail time.  A judge can make a ruling to stop discriminatory behavior and also award victims with monetary damages.