Similar cases of sexual harassment of real estate agents in Lely Resort under investigation

Real estate agents are sounding the alarm on the potentially dangerous situations they are regularly put in.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it has reopened a 2019 investigation of a real estate agent being sexually harassed in Lely Resort after a similar attack happened in the community in June.

Investigators says, both times, female real estate agents were cornered and harassed by a man. One of them was grabbed and touched against her will. In both cases, the suspect sent the victims obscene and sexually explicit messages afterward. One woman claimed she received 30 to 40 texts in 10 minutes.

Real estate agent Dana Ricard told us she’s not surprised to hear about these two accounts. She carries pepper spray with her everywhere.

“If a man comes in alone, you automatically put your guard up and you kind of feel like you know you’re not really thinking real estate at that point,’ Ricard said. “You’re thinking make, ‘Sure, I’m protected, make sure I’m safe here, and let’s get through this.’”

Mike Hughes, the vice president of Downing Frye Realty, told us that’s the right approach. After hearing about the two attacks, he warned real estate agents to be careful.

“I was horrified that something like this could find its way into Southwest Florida,” Hughes said. “One of the best tips I can give any realtor is trust your gut instinct. If someone walks into that home and you don’t feel safe, get out.”

CCSO says it’s not ready to say the suspect in both case are the same person, but we were told the descriptions given of him are similar.

“You know we’re in a very vulnerable position, very exposed, very visible,” Ricard said. “It’s easy to get complacent.”

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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