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Former Baltimore housing handymen charged with misconduct, sexual contact

Two former public housing workers charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree sexual offense.

Two former workers at public housing units have been charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree sexual offense, prosecutors said, as the Housing Authority of Baltimore City continues to grapple with claims that some maintenance staff demanded sexual favors for repairs.

Charles T. Coleman, 48, and Doug Hussy, 61, also were charged last week with harassment and misconduct in office. Fourth-degree sexual offense is not considered violent, but includes sexual contact without consent.

A spokeswoman for the housing authority declined to comment, saying officials had not yet reviewed the charges.

Coleman did not respond to a message Wednesday night. But Hussy said he was unaware of the charges.

"They got it wrong," he said. "I never did anything to nobody."

The men are scheduled for arraignment on the charges on Aug. 19.

In September, the housing authority reached a settlement worth up to $8 million in a class-action suit brought by a group of women tenants. The women said they were sexually abused or harassed by members of the maintenance staff while living in Baltimore's public housing complexes.

When the women did not comply with the demands, they said, they were exposed to unsafe living conditions, such as heat not being repaired.

As a result of the women's suit, the housing authority pledged to make sweeping changes, including creating 50 more maintenance positions and developing a plan to improve the housing complexes.

Coleman and another worker, Michael Robinson, responded to the lawsuit with a defamation case, claiming they were wrongly fired based on false allegations the 17 women made for financial gain. They sought $6 million for compensatory damages and $30 million from each of the defendants for punitive damages. But a Baltimore circuit judge dismissed their defamation case in May.

Hussy said he also was fired from the housing authority.

"I'm trying to get my job back," Hussy said, adding that he was "set up."

The Baltimore City state's attorney's office said the charges, as in all cases, came after an investigation.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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