A woman who traveled from China to Minnesota to work as a nanny says she was abused, starved and held captive by her employer for months before she escaped this week.
According to a news release from the Washington County Attorney, officers found a 58-year-old woman wandering the streets of Woodbury, Minnesota, in the middle of the night with two black eyes and bruises. Upon arriving at the hospital, X-rays revealed she also had broken ribs and a broken sternum.
The woman, who only spoke Chinese, told police through a translator that she was a nanny and was allegedly horrifically abused by her employer, the release states.
She allegedly worked for the wealthy Huang family in Shanghai and came to the United States with them to continue her work caring for the children, the release states. However, after the move, Lili Huang, a member of the family, allegedly began treating the nanny cruelly.
According to the release, the nanny was allegedly given almost nothing to eat, causing her weight to drop from 120 lbs. to 88 lbs. in just four months. She was allegedly sometimes forced to cook, clean and care for the children for up to 18 hours per day and not permitted to leave the house. Authorities calculate her alleged pay at about $1.80 an hour, but she said she did not receive any of it, the release states.
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The Washington Post reports that according to authorities, on July 10, the nanny was allegedly forced to crawl around the house “like a dog” after being beaten so severely she couldn’t rise from her hands and knees.
The Post also reports that police said they found a bag of human hair hidden under the nanny’s mattress. The nanny allegedly told police that she hid of bag of hairs Huang had ripped from her head so Huang wouldn t find it “and force her to eat it,” the paper reports.
When the nanny told her employer she wanted to return to China, Huang allegedly took her passport and told her she was “not going anywhere,” the Post reports.
The nanny fled the house shortly after Huang allegedly threatened to kill her with a knife for accidentally spilling food on the counter on July 13, the Post reports.
Lili Huang is being charged with five felony counts, including labor trafficking, false imprisonment and assault, according to the release.
“Human labor trafficking is a crime that no one can believe exists in their community,” County Attorney Pete Orput said in the release. “However, it is here, it is being committed by some of our citizens, and it amounts to nothing less than slavery in the 21st century.”
Calls to Huang’s attorney, Daniel S. Le, were not immediately returned, but Le told CBS Minnesota that Huang is innocent.
He said his client “categorically denies the false allegations levied by a family friend and will be vindicated through our system of justice.”
Information on Huang’s plea and next court date were not immediately available.