A federal jury on Thursday found a Southlake Texas couple guilty of forced labor, harboring an alien for financial gain and conspiracy in keeping an African girl as an unpaid domestic in their home for 16 years.
The couple,Mohamed ToureandDenise Cros-Toure, both 57, were taken into custody following the verdict, as their children looked on and appeared visibly shaken, according toKTVT-TV,CBS 11. Although a sentencing date has not been established, the couple face up to 20 years in prison on the forced labor charge,according to theFort Worth Star-Telegram.
The defendants preyed on a young and extremely vulnerable girl, Assistant U.S. Attorney GeneralEric Dreibandsaid in a statement after the verdict. Their despicable actions included cruelly abusing her, forcing her to work in their home, hidden in plain sight, for years without pay, and robbing her of her childhood.
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Djena Dialloof Guinea was brought to Texas 18 years ago as a child from a rural Guinea village, speaking no English and with no friends or relatives in the area. She cooked, cleaned, performed yard work, painted and served as a nanny to the couples five children.
In court, the couples lawyer portrayed the arrangement and Diallos treatment as being similar to that of the pairs own children, however Diallo was not allowed to attend school or participate in other activities like the children, who were close to her in age.
During the trial, Diallo, who is now an adult, testified that she could on occasion come and go, but that the couple isolated her and emotionally and physically abused her, even confiscating her legal documents, which caused her to illegally overstay her visa once it expired, according toThe Dallas Morning News.
Diallo, who was referred to as Jenna in the criminal complaint, grew up in a mud hut in a village inGuineabefore going to work for Cros-Toures parents in a city. Then in January 2000, she was placed on a flight and sent to the United States.
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According to theStar-Telegram, the servant told the jury that she was often called a dog, slave, worthless and an idiot.
In August 2016, Diallo escaped with the help of former neighbors.
Toure is the son of Guineas first president,Ahmed Sekou Toure, who served in that position for 26 years. Cros-Toures father was Guineas secretary of state.
The couple, both Guinea natives, were granted asylum in the United States in 2000, the same year Diallo was brought to the U.S., according to court documents say.
Im gratified that we were able to obtain a measure of justice for this young woman, who suffered for years at the hands of this couple people who assumed they could deprive a little girl of her rightful freedoms with impunity, U.S. AttorneyErin Nealy Coxsaid in a statement after the verdict. Im especially grateful to the witnesses who helped rescue this woman and brought the defendants crimes into the light of day. If we want to wipe out human trafficking, we need the whole community to support the effort and be alert.
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