A Texas couple allegedly kept a West African child as a slave for nearly 16 years, forcing her to take care of their children and clean their house without pay, police said.
Mohamed Toure and his wife Denise Cros-Toure, both 57, were arrested after a nearly two-year investigation into allegations that they kept a girl from Guinea against her will from 2000 until she was able to escape their Southlake home in 2016. Toure is the son of the first president of Guinea, Ahmed Sékou Touré, who ruled the country until his death in 1984, according to WFAA.
They were charged with forced labor. If convicted, the couple faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison
The victim – now 24 – was allegedly brought over from the West African nation when she was just 5 years old and was made their slave, authorities said.
Court records said the girl would “cook, clean, do the laundry, and garden among other things, such as mowing the lawn and painting,” Fox 4 News reported.
Investigators said the Toures’ have five other children around her age and they were never allowed to interact with her. She often worked long hours without pay.
The couple is accused of taking the victim’s documents and keeping her in the United States unlawfully after her visa expired, the Star-Telegram reported.
She was also isolated and physically abused, police said.
“Slapping led to the use of a belt, which then led to the use of an electrical cord to strike her,” the arrest warrant said.
The victim was able to escape the home in 2016, after 16 years as a slave.
The couple’s attorney, Scott Palmer, told Fox 4 News in a statement that there is “a lot more to this story than meets the eye.”
“The young lady was brought over to the U.S. at the request of her father who is related to Mr. Toure because he wanted a better life for his daughter,” he said. “She was not the family’s slave and we will prove that.”
The Toures’ are scheduled to appear at a federal court hearing on Monday.
The couple’s neighbors said they were shocked to hear about the allegations and those who had seen the child thought she was just their nanny.
“It’s not something that you want or expect,” neighbor Tracy Zavodnick told Fox 4 News. “This is a very affluent neighborhood and it’s very shocking.”