FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A mother and daughter were found guilty Tuesday of keeping a Haitian teen as their slave for six years in their South Florida home.
Evelyn Theodore and her daughter, Maude Paulin, were convicted of conspiring to violate Simone Celestin's Thirteenth Amendment rights to be free from slavery and forcing her to work for them.
Paulin was also convicted of harboring an illegal alien for financial gain.
Paulin's ex-husband and her mother, Theodore, were found not guilty of harboring an illegal alien for financial gain, but were convicted on a lesser charge of harboring an illegal alien.
Claire Telasco, Paulin's sister, was acquitted of conspiracy and forced labor charges.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for a little more than five hours before returning a verdict Tuesday afternoon.
Paulin's biological daughter ran from the courtroom crying as the verdicts were read. Other relatives gasped in relief when Telasco's not guilty verdicts were read.
Celestin was not present for the verdict, though she testified last week.
Celestin, now 22, testified Wednesday that she considered suicide after years of beatings and intimidation. She tearfully described sleeping on the floor, rummaging through cast-off clothes in the garage for something to wear, bathing from a bucket or a garden hose and scrubbing floors when she should have been in school.
She said Theodore and Maude Paulin often struck her with their hands, shoes or objects such as a curling iron or a mortar if she didn't finish the work to their satisfaction.
Defense attorneys argued during trial the Celestin's allegations of abuse were motivated by her desire to be a permanent legal resident of the U.S.
The jury was also asked to consider whether Paulin should forfeit her home and other property used to keep Celestin working and out of school.