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The federal government alleges that a Springfield landlord harassed a female tenant with four young children for sex in lieu of rent.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed the charges Aug. 31 against Jimmie Bell, who operates Second Bell Trust.

According to online records, Second Bell Trust owns 53 properties in Greene County.

It is a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act to sexually harass a tenant. Bell allegedly made the woman come to his office to personally pay her rent. According to charging documents, when she arrived at the office on one occasion, Bell’s pants were down and he had one of his hands on his penis.

The Springfield Daily Citizen was unable to reach Bell. Messages left for Bell were not returned by the time this story was published.

The name of the woman is redacted in federal documents, as is the address of the property she rented from Bell.

She moved into a Second Bell Trust property in July 2017 with her three minor children and a minor nephew, according to documents. The rent was $795 monthly.

The woman fell behind in rent and went to the management office in February 2018 and, according to allegations, Bell met met her while “standing up with his pants unbuttoned and suspenders on” and he allegedly said, “there’s something down there that wants to play.”

The woman told investigators she sat on Bell’s lap, but changed her mind and got up, according to the complaint.

She took a photo of him sitting on the floor

The woman started to pay her rent weekly to to try to keep up. On one occasion, Bell allegedly grabbed her breast and put his hand in her pants.

On April 26, 2019, she walked into the office and Bell allegedly was sitting on the floor naked from the waist down.

According to the complaint, he told her, “We’re all adults here.”

She used her cell phone to take a picture of Bell and left, according to federal documents.

After that, he allegedly told her, “If you don’t want to play why don’t you just mail in a check or money order.”

On her next visit to the office, she arrived with her aunt and they confronted Bell about his behavior.

He files to evict her and the children

Bell then filed to evict her, claiming she owed him $12,400. The court dismissed the claim for money when Bell failed to appear in court, according to federal documents.

He then sent the woman a notice of non-renewal of lease, stating he was selling the house. She moved out in August 2019.

The complaint alleges Bell made unwelcome advances toward at least 11 other women, but it provides no information or details on what he might have done or when he might have done it or who the victims were.

The complaint alleges Bell illegally discriminated against the tenant “when Respondent Bell requested sexual favors in exchange for reduced rent, subjected her to severe or pervasive sexual harassment and attempted to evict her.”

The complaint asks for monetary damages from Bell for the woman and four children.

“Subjecting tenants to unwelcome sexual advances and sexual harassment is outrageous and a clear violation of the law,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a press release.

“Today’s charge sends a clear message to all landlords that HUD is committed to taking action against landlords whose behavior violates the Fair Housing Act.”

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin