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Alleged victim of racial harassment at ‘Friendship Manor’ to file lawsuit

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Posted at 9:32 PM, Aug 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-15 23:32:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- On Friday, the Utah Fair Housing Authority filed a complaint on Jack Coleman’s behalf. The move comes after the story you saw only on FOX 13 News last week.

Jack Coleman is the displaced Friendship Manor resident who claims he’s the only African-American resident at the housing complex and the target of numerous racial slurs and harassment.

Coleman said that after months of alleged racial harassment and little to no action taken by Friendship Manor Management, he is taking matters into his own hands.

He said, “I needed to know, what rights did I have to stand up for myself?”

After reaching out to the Utah Fair Housing Authority, they filed a housing discrimination complaint on Coleman’s behalf.

“It validates me,” he said. “It made me feel that at least someone is listening.”

Coleman and his attorney said this complaint adds to their case, and the lawsuit they’ll be filing against Friendship Manor.

“It just needs to let management know and the people that own Friendship Manor that what happened to me is illegal and it was my way of letting them know you can't keep disrespecting me like this, you can't keep doing this to me,” Coleman said.

His attorney, Barry Toone, adds: “Our question is, Why did it take four and a half months, three police visits, three notes on the door, an attorney, FOX News... why did it take all of those things before some steps that we think were sufficient steps to get that action to finally take place? We think it was way too long.”

We spoke with the attorney for Friendship Manor, Lester Perry, about this pending lawsuit.

“I think when the facts come out in the court of law or in an administrative proceeding, the exact nature of Mr. Coleman’s complaints and the actions taken by Friendship Manor will be weighed by that administrative judge or by a judge and we'll leave it up to that judge to make that determination,” Perry said.

Perry said he’s confident Friendship Manor will be cleared of any wrong-doing.

“I've investigated the situation,” he said. “I know what actions were taken, I know what complaints were filed by Mr. Coleman, and, in my mind and from my view, the actions taken by management of Friendship Manor was, basically, they did everything they could.”

Coleman’s attorney said they have received about eight to ten calls from other residents of Friendship Manor who are corroborating Coleman’s accounts. He said they expect to file the lawsuit in the next week to week and a half.

We reached out to the Salt Lake City Police Department the past three days and asked about the status of their investigation into the derogatory notes posted on Coleman’s door, but have not gotten any answers.

Friday’s complaint filed by the Utah Fair Housing Authority means they are required to schedule mediation in this case within the next two weeks.