OC apartment owners face suit alleging harassment

From staff reports

The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday it has filed a lawsuit against a Cooperstown couple alleging sexual harassment and retaliation toward a female tenant at a rental property the couple own in Oil City.

The lawsuit alleges that in April 2019, Allen Woodcock groped and tried to forcibly kiss the woman while he was in her 69 Pearl St. apartment. The suit also says he sent an inappropriate text message to her.

Court papers filed by the Justice Department say the woman later reported the incident to Woodcock and his wife, Heidi Woodcock.

Soon after, Heidi Woodcock texted the woman “You are out. You got 10 days. You are a liar,” and served her a notice to vacate, according to the court papers.

Heidi Woodcock also filed a landlord tenant complaint in Venango County Court seeking to evict the woman, the court papers say.

The Justice Department said the lawsuit seeks to compensate the woman and provide a court order barring future discrimination.

The Woodcocks were charged last month by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in connection with their alleged harassment of and retaliation against the tenant.

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative was launched in October 2017 and has since filed 21 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing.