A Texas couple who held a young girl captive for 16 years and used her as a slave, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
According to a press release from federal prosecutors, the perpetrators Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure must pay $288,620.24 in restitution to their victim, who managed to escape in 2016. Their victim was from Guinea and did not even know her age when she spoke to authorities after fleeing the home.
Toure and Cros-Toure were arrested on federal charges of forced labor of a minor, according to a 13-page complaint filed by U.S. prosecutors in the Northern District of Texas last year.
“The complaint is riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies,” her attorney, Scott Palmer, told The Washington Post in an email last year. “We look forward to amassing a mountain of evidence to refute the government’s portrayal of our clients and look forward to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father for a better life in the United States.”
A federal jury have now convicted the defendants of forced labor, conspiracy to commit alien harboring, and alien harboring on Jan. 11 following a four-day trial.
PEOPLE reports that both defendants, who are citizens of Guinea and lawful permanent residents of the United States, may lose their U.S. immigration status and be deported after they complete their sentences.
“I hope that today’s sentence brings some measure of justice and healing to the victim, who suffered untold trauma as a result of the defendants’ heinous crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband.
“The defendants stole her childhood and her labor for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future,” Dreiband continued. “I am very grateful to all who supported, and continue to support, the victim as she attempts to rebuild her life. The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and vigorously prosecute human traffickers and vindicate the rights of their victims.”
The couple was first arrested a year ago on charges of forced labor of a domestic servant.
The girl was reportedly five when the couple allegedly arranged for her to leave her village in the West African country of Guinea in 2000. They have close ties tothe country’s former president, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Cros-Toure as the member of a “wealthy and powerful” Guinean family.
“Once in the United States, the defendants forced the victim to cook, clean, and take care of their biological children, some of whom were close in age to the victim, without pay for the next 16 years,” the statement says.