A couple who enslaved a West African girl at their home in Texas for 16 years have been convicted by a federal jury.
Mohamed Touré, the son of Guinea’s first president Ahmed Sékou Touré, and his wife Denise Cros-Toure arranged for the child to travel to the US when she was only five years old.
They forced her to cook, clean and look after their biological children without pay, beat and whipped her and called her a “dog” and a “slave”.
The girl eventually managed to escape from the house in Southlake with the help of concerned neighbours in 2016.
Touré and his wife now face a maximum of 20 years in prison after being found guilty of forced labour, conspiracy to commit alien harbouring and alien harbouring.
Assistant attorney general Eric Dreiband said the pair “preyed on a young and extremely vulnerable girl”.
He added: “Their despicable actions included cruelly abusing her, forcing her to work in their home, hidden in plain sight, for years without pay, and robbing her of her childhood.
“Human trafficking is a disgraceful and unacceptable crime, and this verdict should send the very clear message that we will investigate and vigorously prosecute these cases to hold human traffickers accountable and bring justice to their victims.”
The Department of Justice said Touré and his wife were from “powerful, wealthy, and politically connected families in Guinea” while their victim was “uneducated, impoverished and from a small, rural village”.
When the girl’s mother learned the couple had arranged to bring her to the US in January 2000, she unsuccessfully attempted to hide the child.
Once in Texas the couple isolated the girl and prevented her from going to school – unlike their own children, some of whom were around the same age.
Whenever she disobeyed or did not satisfy the couple’s demands she was physically and verbally abused to maintain her compliance.
The punishments included being whipped with an electrical cord, being hosed down with water in public and being thrown out of the house and forced to sleep alone in a nearby park.
“I’m gratified that we were able to obtain a measure of justice for this young woman, who suffered for years at the hands of this couple – people who assumed they could deprive a little girl of her rightful freedoms with impunity,” said US attorney Nealy Cox.
“I’m especially grateful to the witnesses who helped rescue this woman and brought the defendants’ crimes into the light of day. If we want to wipe out human trafficking, we need the whole community to support the effort and be alert.”