The U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut have filed a federal lawsuit seeking financial compensation for numerous victims of a former New London landlord who sexually harassed and intimidated them.
That landlord, Richard Bruno Jr., began serving a 16-year prison sentence in 2017 for producing child pornography at a property called Domco II, which he owned at the time with his then-wife. The lawsuit, which lists Bruno, Domco II and Domco as defendants, seeks civil penalties, monetary damages to each aggrieved party and a court order preventing future discrimination. Bruno was a property manager for Domco.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, outlines repeated crude and unwanted behavior on the part of Bruno, including punishing women who did not agree to have sex with him.
The lawsuit states that from 2011 through 2016 Bruno subjected prospective and current female tenants to discrimination and perpetrated ”severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment on multiple occasions.” It lists a litany of instances, for which Bruno was convicted. They include grabbing and groping female tenants and their minor female children; asking to take photos of the bodies of women and girls; establishing and maintaining so-called sex rooms in the properties and showing them to tenants; and forcing female tenants and their young daughters to view sexual paraphernalia. He also, the lawsuit says, entered the homes of female tenants unannounced and took actions, such as evictions, against women who spurned his unwanted advances.
Bruno was sent to federal prison, where he will remain until 2033, for producing a pornographic video of a 17-year-old tenant. According to the New London Day, Bruno admitted he was a sex addict and told the judge who sentenced him, “I’ve been careless with a video camera. That’s clear. I did spend a lot of time doing it. I was living recklessly.”
It’s not clear from the lawsuit how the government plans on getting assets out of Bruno. Domco is still in business, but its manager did not return repeated phone calls to both his home and business Friday.
Representing Bruno at trial was Hamden solo practitioner Christopher Duby, who did not respond to repeated requests for comments Friday.
In a release late Thursday, John Durham, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, wrote: “This federal lawsuit represents a significant step toward achieving justice and compensation for vulnerable victims of civil rights violations. Everyone has the right to be free from unwanted sexual harassment and intimidation by a landlord or property manager, loan officer or housing official, maintenance worker or security guard.”
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the same release, “Female tenants should never be subjected to sexual harassment in a place that should be free from coercion and intimidation.”
The lawsuit says both Domco and Domco II “knew or should have known of Bruno’s discriminatory housing practices, had the authority to take preventive and corrective action, and failed to take reasonable preventive or corrective measures to prevent or redress Bruno’s conduct.”