Esthela Clark paid "coyotes" $3,000 in 2012 to bring a 22-year-old woman across the border from Mexico
A Florida woman pleaded guilty to paying $3,000 to have a Mexican woman smuggled into the United States before holding her captive for two years and trying to impregnate her with syringes containing her boyfriend’s sperm.
Court documents obtained by PEOPLE confirm that Esthela Clark, 47, pleaded guilty to a single count of forced labor while appearing in federal court Monday morning. The Jacksonville woman faces 20 years in prison at her sentencing next month.
According to the documents, Clark paid “coyotes” $3,000 in 2012 to bring a 22-year-old woman across the border. The victim was promised $4,000 to serve as a surrogate for Clark and her boyfriend, but the documents indicate she told investigators she was told the process would be overseen by medical professionals.
The victim — who is not named in the documents — told federal agents Clark forbade her from leaving her one-bedroom condominium in Jacksonville, telling the woman the neighborhood was dangerous and that she “would most likely be killed” if she ventured outside. Clark also told the woman she read Tarot cards and told her that if she ever tried to hide anything, “Clark would find out,” the documents state.
The woman was forced to sleep on a mattress in the dining room, the documents state. A week after arriving in the U.S., the woman said Clark started trying to inseminate her with syringes containing sperm retrieved from expended condoms. According to court filings, Clark and her boyfriend would have sex and she would later extract semen from the contraceptive.
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The woman told investigators Clark would sometimes inject her three to four times a day. When nine months of attempted conceiving failed, the woman said Clark became physical and psychologically abusive, and forced her to perform “domestic labor.” The documents reveal the labor included looking after Clark’s dog and cleaning her condo.
The victim said Clark started rationing her food because she believed the victim was overweight and that her difficulty getting pregnant stemmed from her weight, according to the documents. The woman was fed only beans and lost 65 pounds, the documents state.
“Clark isolated the victim from her family,” a statement from federal prosecutors reads. “She also attempted to collect from the victim’s family the cost she had paid to the ‘coyotes,’ with interest.”
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Clark also forced the woman “to have sex with two complete strangers through threats of force and coercion,” and threatened to hurt her family if she ever attempted to escape, the documents state. At one point, Clark forced the woman to work in local restaurants but kept her earnings.
Investigators learned of the abuse after an acquaintance of the victim intervened.
Clark was indicted in 2015 on charges of bringing in and harboring aliens, sex trafficking of children, forced labor and furthering slave traffic.
PEOPLE could not reach Clark or her attorneys for comment Tuesday.