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Worcester landlord and his employee accused of sexually harassing female tenants for 10 years

Mohan Prashad is accused of making unwanted sexual advances, touching tenants without consent, offering to reduce rent costs in exchange for sexual acts, and more.

Federal authorities filed a lawsuit Monday alleging a Worcester landlord and one of his employees sexually harassed female tenants for at least 10 years.

The landlord, Mohan Prashad, is accused of making unwanted advances, touching tenants sexually without consent, and offering to “grant tangible benefits—such as reducing rent amounts” in exchange for sexual acts. He is also accused of retaliating against tenants who resisted his harassment by intimidating them with eviction threats and refusing necessary maintenance services. Prashad also allegedly hired a level 3 sex offender and did not take action against him when he was accused of raping a tenant’s guest while she slept.

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Prashad owns about 15 residential properties in Worcester under his name and through Lanaton LLC and Savton LLC, which are also named defendants in the suit.

“No one should ever have to choose between housing and sexual harassment,” Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a release. “Sexual harassment is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, and my office is committed to achieving justice and compensation for individuals whose civil rights have been violated.”

One woman alleged Prashad stopped providing heat to her apartment and initiated eviction proceedings after she denied his advances. He reportedly asked another tenant if she was a stripper and offered to pay her $1,000 for “an hour.”

Prashad is also accused of failing to take action after complaints that his employee, David Besaw, was sexually harassing tenants.

Besaw is a registered level 3 sex offender in Massachusetts. Level 3 is the most severe status and indicates a “high risk of re-offending” and “high degree of danger to the public.” Besaw was convicted of five sex crimes, including rape, incest, and indecent assault on a child, between 1977 and 2000.

He is accused of sexually assaulting, groping, making unwelcome advances toward, and exposing his genitals to female tenants. The lawsuit also alleges he made “intrusive, unannounced” visits to tenants’ units to “conduct and further” his harassment.

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One woman, the guest of a tenant, told officials she believes Besaw raped her while she slept on a friend’s couch.

The lawsuit alleges Prashad and Besaw’s actions “caused female tenants to suffer physical harm, fear, anxiety, and emotional distress, and inhibited their ability to secure housing for themselves and their families.”

Officials are seeking damages for the women affected and civil penalties to address the alleged discriminatory actions of Prashad.