MARSHFIELD, Mass. — A Boston couple claims they were racially discriminated by a South Shore real estate agent during an open house event.
“I didn’t know what to think, I’ve never had anyone treat me like this before,” Robyn Thompson said.
Thompson told Boston 25 News about an incident that took place during a Marshfield open house last Friday.
Thompson recently learned that a house that once belonged to her family is back on the market. On Friday, Thompson, her husband Duong An, and their kids ages 6 and 3, stopped by the house on their way to a camping trip to see if she could get the house back into the family.
But Thompson and her husband say real estate agent Kristen Dewey treated them poorly and things quickly went from bad to worse.
“From the first time we walked in, she was escalating things,” Duong An said.
The couple says things reached a breaking point when the agent who followed them through the house criticized them for being critical of a light fixture.
“You go into a store, they think you are about to steal something? I feel a little bit like that, she kept on following,” Duong An said.
Eventually, the couple said Dewey asked them to leave and she threatened to call the police. Dewey tells Boston 25 News, however, that it was the family’s idea to call the police.
Thompson said she thinks that threat was racially motivated.
“I didn’t [think that] until she threatened to call the police,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t see her doing that to anybody else, that was not [my] complexion.”
Kristen Dewey issued a statement through her publicist that said in part:
“I’m disheartened by any accusation that I would discriminate, [...] in my 15+ years of real estate experience, I’ve never had a single complaint – ever. Any implication of me being a racist is not true.”
In the Statement, Dewey denies she threatened to call the police and said it was the family who suggested it, but she did not.
She said that, on the day of the open house, she was trying to keep things moving because of COVID-19 protocols.
While Dewey admits she suggested she might call police, she did not. She said it was the family who suggested it. In fact, she says she would like to sit down with the couple and talk to them in person to apologize.
Thompson and her family feel so strongly about what happened, they were considering filing a civil rights violation complaint with the State Attorney General.
The MA Attorney General’s office confirmed it received the complaint and is reviewing.
The Office said housing complaints usually are referred to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
If MCAD finds in favor of Robyn Thompson, under state law, a judgement could include damages, litigation cost, attorneys’ fees and potential civil penalties against the defendant, not to exceed $5,000.
“My name is Kristin Dewey, and I’m the owner of Kornerstone Real Estate. First and foremost, I’m disheartened by any accusation that I would discriminate again Robyn Thompson and Duong An and their family during the open house held on Friday, July 29 [sic] at a property in North Marshfield.
In my 15+ years of real estate experience, I’ve never had a single complaint – ever. I’ve sold homes of all values throughout Massachusetts. Kornerstone Kares, the philanthropic activities led by me and the Kornerstone Real Estate team, sponsors various nonprofits including organizations that help youth, veterans, clothing banks, educational institutions and more. I was also a founding member of a reputable not-for-profit in Marshfield, which helps a diverse population in times of need. I’m a mom, Marshfield resident, and a valued member of the South Shore community. It’s not just lip service. I share this because sometimes what you read on the Internet does not tell the entire story of someone’s character.
The residence was previously owned by the grandparents of Robyn Thompson (the Martin family), for which another Martin family member, who attended the open house the day prior, indicated was emotional for her. Due to COVID-19, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the homeowner, the agents, and the prospective buyers, we have instituted protocols on flow, amount of time in the house, and number of occupants during an open house. Following that protocol, I asked Robyn Thompson and Duong An not to linger and to follow the flow. In addition, I requested they not make loud negative comments about the current state of the home which could be heard by other prospective buyers. After I made these requests, the situation escalated, and I ultimately suggested that if they didn’t follow protocol that they would have to leave. At that point they, not I, suggested I call the cops, and I did not.
Having worked in this business for many years and understanding the emotional attachment to a home, I felt the need to call Duong An after the open house and apologize for how the situation ended and invited them to a private appointment so they could take their time viewing the property. He apologized for how the situation escalated as well. Any implication of me being a racist is not true. I am extending an invitation to Robyn and Duong to meet with me in person so that can I apologize for how the situation ended.”— Kristen Dewey