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Omaha real estate firm employed sexual predator despite complaints, lawsuits say | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Four women are suing Omaha real estate giant The Lund Company for negligence, alleging that the company allowed a now-convicted sexual predator to continue working as a maintenance technician despite multiple complaints.

Hector Guardado-Alfaro, 45, was convicted in 2022 on three counts of third-degree sexual assault related to women he sexually harassed and assaulted while working at the Tiburon View Apartments near 168th Street and Nebraska Highway 370. He has since been deported.

According to lawsuits filed in Sarpy County last week, three tenants and one Lund employee were subjected to unwanted sexual comments, groping, harassment and, in one case, rape, by the longtime maintenance man who had worked at the property since 2014. Court filings allege that Lund’s human resources department was made aware of his behavior multiple times but allowed him to continue working at the property and have access to female tenants’ homes.

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Lund manages more than 90 apartment complexes across Nebraska, the majority of which are located in Omaha and the surrounding suburbs. The company declined to comment on the incidents or its sexual harassment policies citing pending litigation.

All four women have been clinically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, among other mental health conditions, and are seeking damages for past and future medical costs, mental and physical anguish and emotional distress, according to the lawsuits. They are also suing Lund’s parent company, Cushman and Wakefield, and the property owners.

The lawsuits allege that Lund was first made aware of Guardado-Alfaro’s behavior in October 2018. During a meeting, Lund’s former vice president of human resources, Mary Champion, was allegedly told by another maintenance technician that Guardado-Alfaro regularly engaged in “vulgar behavior” and would “physically grope female tenants and employees in a sexually aggressive manner.” The man later recounted the same to Sarpy County investigators.

Guardado-Alfaro faced no consequences, according to the lawsuits. He continued to work at Tiburon View until criminal charges were filed against him in January 2020.

According to the lawsuits and court filings in the criminal case against Guardado-Alfaro:

The first reported complaint came from a woman who worked as the complex’s property manager from November 2018 to April 2019. She reported that Guardado-Alfaro would repeatedly grope her breasts and make sexually suggestive comments. On one occasion, he forced her to perform oral sex on him in the basement of the leasing office.

In April 2019, the woman met with Champion to make Lund aware of the sexual harassment she had endured. She resigned from her job after this meeting, but Guardado-Alfaro continued working at the complex.

In Champion’s notes from the meeting, obtained by attorney Clete Blakeman from Sarpy County investigators and provided to The World-Herald, she wrote that the former manager was only leaving her job because of the harassment.

“She said she wanted to cry every day before coming to work,” Champion wrote. “I again asked her why she never told anyone and she said because Hector was so revered at the company and by the owners, she did not think it would do any good.”

Champion would later tell the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office that Guardado-Alfaro was required to complete sexual harassment training after this incident. But when investigators requested a copy of his employee file in 2021, Lund officials said that there was “nothing in the file related to any additional training requirements for sexual harassment.”

Also in April 2019, a tenant reported being sexually assaulted by Guardado-Alfaro in her own apartment. She had placed an emergency maintenance order due to an overflowing toilet, and he showed up visibly intoxicated and struggling to walk or speak.

As the tenant stood in her living room — her teenage daughter sleeping in the next room — Guardado-Alfaro sneaked up behind her, bit her shoulder and groped both of her breasts. As she rejected his advances, he repeatedly mentioned that he had access to keys that could get him into her apartment, making the tenant feel as if she had “lost all security” in her home.

The next assaults both occurred in January 2020, right before Guardado-Alfaro was criminally charged. On Jan. 17, a tenant was sitting in her car in a designated garage space preparing to enter her home. When she exited the car, she was greeted by Guardado-Alfaro, who demanded a hug before allowing her to leave the garage.

Two days later, Guardado-Alfaro used his vehicle to block the tenant in the garage as she was sitting in her car. As she attempted to leave her vehicle, he straddled her leg and forcefully groped her, making sexually suggestive statements and attempting to penetrate her with his fingers.

The tenant told Guardado-Alfaro that she was going to another apartment in the complex to a football watch party. He demanded that she call the host to tell her that he would be coming to the party as well.

Guardado-Alfaro followed the woman to the apartment where the party was occurring. He was allowed to enter by the tenant, the fourth plaintiff, and he proceeded to stand behind the couch and “constantly rub his penis and stare” at the women in the apartment. Young children were in the home at the time.

A confrontation between party guests and Guardado-Alfaro ensued, ending with him threatening to come back to have sex with the tenant when her husband was away. He also reportedly proclaimed that he “was an alpha male, and alpha males get what they want.”

The next day, the two women involved in the Jan. 19 incident went to the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office to report Guardado-Alfaro’s behavior. He was charged on Jan. 21, 2020, with third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace.

As word began to spread about the charges, more women came forward. By April, prosecutors had tacked on three more counts of third-degree sexual assault, two counts of first-degree sexual assault and attempted third-degree sexual assault.

As part of a plea deal, Guardado-Alfaro pleaded no contest to three counts of third-degree sexual assault. All other charges were dismissed. After serving jail time, he was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April 2022.

Blakeman hopes the lawsuits will provide some monetary relief to his clients, who he says have suffered “immeasurably” from the harassment. Some of the women moved states, changed careers or began taking psychiatric medications as a result of the incidents and ensuing trauma.

The worst part, Blakeman said, is that Lund was made aware of Guardado-Alfaro’s behavior but failed to do any meaningful investigation into the allegations. Had the company taken seriously the report made by Guardado-Alfaro’s co-worker, all four assaults may have been prevented.

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