FORT WORTH, Texas—A suburban Fort Worth couple has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison each for enslaving a Guinean woman for 16 years.
A federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, sentenced Mohamed Touré and Denise Cros-Touré each to two seven-year terms and one five-year term, all sentences to be served concurrently. The couple must also serve three years of supervised release upon completion of their prison terms and pay their victim $288,000 in restitution. They also will be deported to Guinea.
The couple and defense attorneys are exploring an appeal, said Scott Palmer, attorney for Cros-Touré.
Texas couple who enslaved girl for 16 years get 7-year prison term
Mohamed Touré and his wife Denise Cros-Touré, both 58, guilty of bringing the young girl from Guinea to US and forcing her to work for them without pay in early 2000 https://t.co/5f9jAFFeOV
— Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) April 24, 2019
Trial evidence showed the Tourés brought the girl, then aged at least 5 years but perhaps as old as 13, from her rural Guinean village in 2000. They forced her to work without pay in their home as a housekeeper, cook and nanny until she fled and alerted authorities.
Appearing in court during the trial, the woman told the jury she was beaten with a belt or an electrical cord when she didn’t complete chores or burned food. Punishment also included shaving her head, washing her outside with a hose, and forcing her to sleep in a nearby park.
“She tried to choke me multiple times,” Djena Diallo said, reported the Dallas Morning News. “She pulled my hair.”
She also said that the couple called her “dog,” “slave,” and “worthless,” and noted she wasn’t allowed to receive an education.
Texas Couple Each Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Forced Labor and Related Offenses https://t.co/uFaDNkgy1a
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) April 23, 2019
The Tourés are the son and daughter-in-law of the late Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Touré, who helped lead Guinea to independence from French rule in 1958. Sekou Toure was the country’s first president, a role he held until his death in 1984.
The Tourés were convicted in January, and prosecutors had sought the full 20-year prison sentences allowed by law. However, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Conner tempered the sentence request.
After they serve their sentences, they will be deported to Guinea.
“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 labor for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
Jury to decide if African woman brought to Southlake home to work without pay was ‘slave’ or considered part of family https://t.co/IW8beYZ6Tq
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) January 10, 2019
“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.”
“Forced labor trafficking cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute—in part because victims are often afraid to speak out,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “It took tremendous courage for this young woman to share her story at trial.”
Mohamed Toure and Denise Florence Cros-Toure, both 57, are charged with forced labor, harboring an alien for financial gain,… https://t.co/tPUlcOBrwr
— Trenia Today (@treniatoday) September 20, 2018
However, Palmer said the judge’s decision to temper the sentence suggests the trial judge did not believe the pair were as evil as portrayed by prosecutors.
“I think he saw through the exaggerations and lies of the prosecution,” he said.
Epoch Times reporter Zack Stieber contributed to this report.