Holding a person hostage to perform slave labor is a crime. One Southlake family that is facing federal criminal charges for bringing a girl over from Guinea with the promise of a better life and then subjecting her to slave conditions. They could receive 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The determination of guilt will depend on the specific facts of the case and how those “facts” are presented to the jury.
Human Trafficking in Texas
The case mentioned above involves a respected Southlake family that resides in a large home with two adults and five children. Both the mother and father are from Guinea and have extensive connections to the ruling party there.
In 2000, the family brought over a girl, who they claim was 13 at the time, with the promise of a better life. In the complaint, it is alleged that the girl was only 5 at the time; as she never celebrated her birthday, she is unsure of her real age.
The complaint further alleges that the family made her sleep on the floor and used her as slave labor. It is alleged that she brought the children to school and then returned home to make the beds, clean the dishes, and vacuum the floor. She was also charged with raking the leaves and mowing the lawn. When she did not behave, the parents would use corporal punishment, including slapping her with a belt. Another punishment includes making her sleep outside of the house.
Allegedly, she was dressed in rags and had an unkempt look. This is in contrast to the rest of the family who dressed neatly and lived in a house that was estimated to be valued at $600,000.
Defendant’s Rejection of Claims
The defense rejects the characterization of how the girl was treated. In its response to the criminal complaint, the defense states that she was treated like the other children of the family and that there is a “mountain” of evidence to prove this. The defense states that the defendants brought her to the U.S. for a better life because she was living in a mud hut in a poor village in Guinea.
As you can see, the stakes are quite high in this case, and human trafficking is a serious crime in Texas. The issue is whether the girl was treated fairly or was a slave. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, despite the media depiction of a predatory, wealthy family preying on an innocent, poor child. Second, no doubt the prosecution will provide evidence that depicts the girl’s life as an abused slave. The defense will be tasked with painting a picture of normalcy within the family dynamic. Surely the prosecution will try swaying the jury by providing high drama, emotional testimony. The defense will need a skilled lawyer who can cut through the drama and present the facts.
The trial is currently ongoing.
Have you been accused of crime associated with human trafficking? This is a very serious charge and you need a lawyer who can aggressively defend your case. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a Dallas-area defense attorney.
(image courtesy of Daniel Watson)