Mohamed Touré and his wife Denise Cros-Touré, both 58, have been sentenced to seven years in jail by a US court after they were found guilty of bringing a young girl by the name Djena Diallo from Guinea and forcing her to work for them without pay in early 2000.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor sentenced Toure and Cros-Toure, to seven years in prison and ordered them to pay $288,620.24 in restitution.
The couple who are both citizens of Guinea enslaved the young woman for 16 years at their home in Texas, USA.
“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. The defendants stole her childhood and her labour for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future." said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband.
As a result of the conviction, Mr Touré who is the son of Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, may lose his US immigration status, the US Department of Justice said. The pair will be deported to Guinea after they are released from prison.
The girl is thought to have been five years old when she arrived in the US according to authorities.
“Forced labor trafficking cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute — in part because victims are often afraid to speak out. It took tremendous courage for this young woman to share her story at trial. She was brought to this country at a young age, pressured to stay quiet, and forced to work for this family without pay for 16 years.” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a Justice Department statement.
She was forced to clean, cook and take care of the couple's children for 16 years. During that time she was repeatedly hit, had her head shaved and forced to sleep alone in a nearby park as punishment, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
Mr Touré and his wife also confiscated her passport and denied her access to schooling.
In August 2016, the girl is said to have escaped from the couple's house in Southlake "with the help of several former neighbours", the justice department said.
Scott Palmer, a lawyer for Mrs Cros-Touré told the New York Times the couple planned to appeal the case claiming that the story was "wildly exaggerated".