A Texas couple was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison for forcing a Guinean girl to work for them for 16 years.
Mohamed Toure, 58, and Denise Cros-Toure, 58, who are also citizens of Guinea, face deportation after serving their federal prison sentences for forced labor. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Toures’ home was seized and they were also ordered to pay the victim more than $288,000 in restitution.
In 2000, the couple and others had arranged for the 5-year-old girl to leave her village in Guinea and travel to Southlake, Texas, where the couple lived. For the next 16 years, the couple forced the girl to cook, complete yard work, and care for their five children without compensation, the outlet reported, citing court documents.
CNN reported that the girl didn’t know English when she arrived from Guinea and wasn’t enrolled in school. While the couple claimed they didn’t pay her because they saw her as family, the Department of Justice said they would physically and emotionally punish her when she didn’t perform tasks to their liking, calling her a “dog,” “slave,” “worthless,” and an idiot.
Authorities said the woman was struck at least once with an electrical cord. She also claimed she had gone to the doctor on one instance and had slept on the floor for years until one of the couple’s children left for college, according to The New York Times.
A criminal complaint stated that the teen had run away in the summer of 2016 but was brought back home. Around that time, a neighbor had encouraged her to collect photos and other evidence to prove that she lived with the couple.
Permanent residents since 2005, Mohamed and Denise were arrested in April 2018, only to be released a few weeks later. The pair were rearrested in January of this year following their convictions.
The New York Times notes that Mohamed is the son of Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, who led the African country for 26 years until his death in 1984.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a news release. “The defendants stole her childhood and her labor for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future.”
[Featured image: Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure/Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office]