Texas Couple Allegedly Kept Girl as Slave for 16 Years Before She Escaped
The girl was allegedly taken from her village in Guinea and brought to Texas in 2000
A Texas couple is accused of keeping a young West African girl as their slave for 16-years until she escaped from their home two years ago, PEOPLE confirms.
Mohamed Toure, 57, and Denise Cros-Toure, 57, are charged with forced labor of a domestic servant, the Department of Justice said in a news release. The couple appeared in federal court Thursday.
The girl was five when the couple allegedly arranged for her to leave her village in the West African country of Guinea in 2000, according to the news release.
The couple has close ties to the government of Guinea: Toure is the son of the country’s former president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, according to the Washington Post.
The alleged victim, who has not been identified, does not speak English and was allegedly forced to do labor around the couple’s home, including cooking, cleaning, laundry and yard work, all without being paid. She also allegedly took care of the couple’s five children.
Officials say that although the alleged victim was close in age to the couple’s own children, she was denied any education.
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“As part of their coercive scheme to compel the victim’s labor, the defendants took her documents and caused her to remain unlawfully in the United States after her visa expired,” the DOJ statement alleges. “They further isolated her from her family and others and emotionally and physically abused her.”
Authorities allege that the girl was forced to sleep on the floor and was sometimes beaten by Cros-Toure with a belt or electrical chord, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN. They allege she had part of her earlobe torn after Cros-Toure grabbed her by the ear.
The alleged victim once attempted to flee but was discovered in a park by a police officer and returned to the family, CNN reports.
Eventually, the girl escaped from the couple’s home with the help of several neighbors in August 2016, according to the release.
If found guilty, Toure and Cros-Toure each face 20 years in federal prison, the news release states.
It was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys or have entered pleas.