According to a press release issued Monday by the Department of Justice, the couple was sentenced to seven years in jail and nearly $ 300,000 for restitution.
Mohamed Toure (58) and Denise Cros-Toure (58) were convicted in January of forced labor, conspiracy to harbor a foreign and foreign harbor.
They are both Guinean citizens who took the young girl and legitimate indefinite US residents, but they may lose their US immigration status and be deported to Guinea, the Department of Justice said.
The couple was given a maximum sentence of 20 years for forced labor and 1
A lawyer for Toure said the couple was satisfied with the lighter sentence, but claimed that the girl's story was invented.
Leaving the house
Investigators claim that the young girl initially lived in a one-room cabin with her family in Guinea. She was still young when her father, who worked as a farmer, urged her to go to the city to work there. After the lawsuit, she soon began working for the Cros-Toure family in Guinea.
In January 2000, the young girl – who was not named in the lawsuit – was flown to the Toure residence in Southlake, where she found it. The first task was to look after the couple's youngest son, who joined it was about two years old, according to the 2018 complaint. When she arrived, she did not speak English and was not enrolled at school.
Girl asserts years of abuse
The child's workload eventually increased on cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, mowing and gardening. Their day began at 7 o'clock in the morning, when the couple's children went to school and went to sleep at night, according to the complaint.
She had not eaten with the couple and their five children and slept on the floor, investigators said. The couple kept them at home, isolating them, forcing them to do homework and caring for their children without pay, and made sure they were completely dependent on them, according to the lawsuit.
Scott Palmer, lawyer of Cros-Toure, says the couple has not paid the girl for their work, because she was like a family.
"You did not pay them, but you do not pay family members to clean your own house," he said. "She lived there like everyone else." He said that the couple wanted to adopt the girl.
But the Department of Justice says the couple "punish them physically, emotionally, and verbally" every time they disobey them or "did not do the work they wanted to their liking."
You would call them a "dog," a "slave," "worthless," and an idiot, said the Department of Justice in Monday's press release, citing evidence presented in the couple's trial. They choked them, whipped them, sometimes put on their hair – and sometimes shaved, said the Ministry of Justice.
Toures attorney Brady T. Watt III said these stories originated in the girl's attempt to stay in the US. Watt told CNN that the girl made the allegations after her family asked to return to Guinea.
"We know why this happened because that was the way to get a T-visa," Watt said. "She was not a slave, she drew Runner on her Fitbit and made model drives."
She escaped after 16 years
Until summer 2016, The girl had confided in people who knew Cros-Toure and Toure about the abuse and had tried to flee, but she was always brought home according to the lawsuit.
In August of the same year, with the help of a few former neighbors, she waited until Cros-Toure left the house and fled taking a traveling bag, backpack, and travel documents.
"Forced labor is known to be difficult to prosecute – in part because victims are often afraid to speak out," said US attorney Erin Nealy Cox in a press release. "I'd like to recommend you and the witnesses who helped illuminate their circumstances."
"If we want to eradicate human trafficking, we must remind the witnesses to speak out and ask the community to stay alert."
The conviction should send a message to those who abuse and exploit others, said Jeffrey McGallicher, DSS Houston Field Office Special Agent in charge.
"You are held accountable for your evil deeds," McGallicher said.
Laura Koran, Dave Alsup and Laura Jarrett of CNN contributed to this report.