An Oklahoma man who kidnapped his preadolescent stepdaughter, repeatedly raped and abused her, and fathered nine of her children in the 19 years he held her captive was convicted in federal court last week.
A statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Henri Michelle Piette, 63, was convicted of kidnapping and travel with intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile on June 6. Evidence presented in court revealed that Piette kidnapped Rosalynn McGinnis from her Poteau home in 1997, when she was 10 or 11, while in a relationship with the girl’s mother.
The Associated Press reported that Piette unofficially married McGinnis shortly after the kidnapping. McGinnis, now in her 30s, had her first child by Piette in 2000 when she was 15. Witnesses who took the stand during the seven-day trial testified that Piette assumed several identities and repeatedly moved the victim and their children between the U.S. and Mexico.
McGinnis told People magazine that when she turned 18, Piette forced her to go to an Arizona police station and claimed that she had run away. Piette made her go to police because her mother had reported her missing, resulting in her being placed on a national registry, she said.
In June 2016, McGinnis and eight of her nine children fled from their home in Mexico. Months earlier, the victim met a couple named Lisa and Ian at a restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico, after she couldn’t pay for groceries.
Lisa recalled to KSHB that she realized McGinnis was in trouble after Piette accidentally disclosed that he was 62. She said she then gathered that McGinnis is 32 and her oldest child was a teenager.
McGinnis and eight of her nine children escaped after Piette passed out while drinking. The news station reported that her oldest child, about 17 at the time, had already escaped and was ultimately reunited with his mother and siblings.
Piette was apprehended in Dallas, Texas, months after the victim and her children escaped, according to documents obtained by People. Federal authorities said sentencing is pending the completion of a presentence report.
“The victim endured two decades of horrific abuse by the defendant. Her courage lead her to escape and rescue her children and allowed investigators and prosecutors to seek justice on her behalf. Ultimately her courage ended the defendant’s reign of terror,” United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester said in the statement.
“I know this verdict cannot heal the countless wounds inflicted by the defendant. It should prevent him from ever inflicting more.”
[Featured image: Henri Piette/Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office]