A gay couple is suing their former landlord in Manhattan after they said they were banned from passing out candy on Halloween in 2018 and faced ongoing anti-LGBTQ harassment — including when building management allegedly removed the couple’s Rainbow Flag from their apartment.
Anthony Dolci and his husband Ming Infante, who previously lived at Dorchester Towers at 155 West 68th Street in Manhattan, claim in their suit that they faced a barrage of adversity from the building during their time living there. The $2.5 million lawsuit, filed in New York’s Supreme Court on August 20, accuses the building’s former property manager, Kelly Ann Whipple, and vice president of Ogden CAP Properties, John McDermott, of defamation, malicious prosecution, discrimination, and filing false police reports.
Dolci, a Latinx man, and his husband, Infante, an Asian man, believe they were targeted because of their race and sexual orientation. Now, they are calling for the building to be held accountable for the alleged actions.
“Halloween night is just a very small glimpse of the injustices that this building did to my family,” Dolci said. “They allowed Dorchester Towers employees to call the police with impunity, over and over, simply because they didn’t like us, and they wanted us out of the building.”
Dorchester Towers allegedly hired off-duty NYPD officers as security guards to stand in the lobby of the building due to accusations that the couple made tenants feel unsafe, the complaint states. On Halloween night, the security officers went even further and barred the couple from participating in trick-or-treating activities in the building.
In protest of the guard’s orders, Dolci, who was wearing a witch’s hat, no T-shirt, and a yellow cape, headed outside with a bag of treats. According to footage reviewed by Gay City News, Dolci was holding a glow-in-the-dark Halloween globe and pleaded for help while the guards attempted to snatch his bag of candy from off of the street. In the video, the guards allegedly confirmed that they were calling the cops on Dolci because he “cannot block the pedestrians.”
“For what? for standing on a public street!” Infante chimed in from their bedroom window. “For standing on a public street!”
The 22-page complaint claims the police were called at least 25 times on the couple, with at least half of those times resulting in Dolci being arrested or taken to local hospitals for psychiatric evaluations, he added.
“They were weaponizing the 911 call center against us,” Dolci said.
The following year, Whipple allegedly told the couple they “did not fit in with the building” and did not dress appropriately “for the building.” Dolci claims the couple was repeatedly reprimanded for trivial reasons, such as when Whipple allegedly criticized the couple for listening to LGBTQ singer Boy George and Madonna because it was not “appropriate” for the building.
“I felt she’s talking about my sexuality; I wear nail polish. I am flamboyant,” Dolci said. “I think I didn’t fit her idea of what a gay person should be for this building.”
He added, “I’m not gonna tiptoe around anyone with my sexuality, and I think that when I stood up to her about that, she retaliated.”
The couple is also accusing the staff of removing the Rainbow Flag that was placed on their door.
General Counsel for Ogden CAP Properties Stephen Nahley denied the allegations.
“The accusations contained in the lawsuit concerning Dorchester Towers, Ms. Whipple, and our other employees are baseless, totally without merit. We will defend them vigorously and are confident that we will prevail,” Nahley said in a written statement to Gay City News.
Whipple and McDermott did not immediately reply to Gay City News’ request for comment.
In March of 2019, the couple moved out of the apartment, and soon after, Dolci began standing outside the high-end condos in protest. During a couple of Dolci’s one-person rallies, the building’s staff allegedly began spraying and assaulting him with water hoses and damaging his signs. Dolci said he submitted this footage along with a complaint to the New York City Human Rights Commission. In a statement, the Commission said they “cannot comment on the status of open investigations” but “once the matter is closed, it is then publicly available information.”
In April, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke out in support of the couple at the Stop False Police Reporting rally at One Police Plaza. In a statement to Gay City News, Hoylman called the allegations of false police reports “troubling” and said he hopes “we can get to the bottom of it.”
Last year, as an outgrowth of the alleged harassment, Dolci started Gays Against Dorchester Tower, a Facebook page chronicling the couple’s movement to hold the building responsible for their alleged actions.
“We could have been the worst tenants in the building, which we weren’t,” Dolci said. “But that doesn’t justify breaking the law, and abusing people, and abusing their position of power and using the police as a weapon.”