YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit against the owner and manager of residential rental properties in Youngstown.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleges that Joseph Pedaline, 71, sexually harassed female tenants at properties that he owned or managed in Youngstown since at least 2009 — a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

According to the complaint, Pedaline subjected tenants to repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, touched them without their consent, entered their homes without permission, and offered to overlook late rent payments, waive rent or perform repairs in exchange for sexual contact. The lawsuit also alleges that Pedaline initiated evictions or threatened to evict tenants who refused his sexual advances.

The properties that Pedaline owned and/or managed are on Lora Avenue, Ohio Avenue and Fairgreen Avenue in Youngstown, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Pedaline grabbed a woman whom he was showing a vacant apartment to and told her, “This is the place where we have our rendezvous.”

The complaint also alleges that he told a tenant who was late on her payment that she could reduce her rent balance if she cleaned out an empty apartment. She said she she arrived, there were no cleaning supplies, and when she asked about it, Pedaline told her, “There are other ways to work off the rent,” the complaint stated. The woman reported that Pedaline then said she would not have to worry about the rent if she had sex with him, according to the complaint.

Another tenant reported that Pedaline evicted her without the court process by changing the locks after she refused to have sex with him.

When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Pedaline said he had no comment on the lawsuit as he received no information on it yet.

In 2021, Pedaline was honored by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society for his work in saving historic houses on Youngstown’s North Side. He was known for painting the houses he owned in nontraditional colors.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Pedaline seeks monetary damages to compensate those affected, a civil penalty and a court order barring future discrimination.

“Too often tenants with limited housing options are preyed upon by landlords, maintenance staff and others who have control over where they live,” said U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio. “This lawsuit sends a message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate the exploitation of our vulnerable community members.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Those at the Justice Department are now asking those who believe that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or managed by Joseph Pedaline or YLP LLC, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, to contact the Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291 (by pressing 1 for English, 2 for sexual harassment and then 01 for United States v. Joseph Pedaline and leaving a message).

Individuals may also send an email to or submit a report online. Reports also may be made by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.

The Justice Department launched its Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative in October 2017. The department’s initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The initiative seeks to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers and other people who have control over housing.

Since launching the initiative, the department has filed 36 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered over $10.8 million for victims.