SOUTHLAKE, TX (New York Daily News) – The son of the first president of a West African country and his wife enslaved a woman for 16 years before she escaped, authorities say.
Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure arranged for the victim, believed to be 5 years old at the time, to travel alone from her village in Guinea to Texas in 2000, according to an affidavit filed with the federal complaint.
The couple forced the victim, who did not speak English, to work long hours in their Southlake home without pay, according to a Department of Justice press release. She was forced to cook, clean, do laundry, perform yardwork, paint and care for the couple’s first children, according to authorities.
Investigators say the victim was also denied access to schooling and other opportunities “afforded” to the other kids, even though she was close to them in age.
Additionally, the suspects allegedly took the girl’s documents and caused her to remain unlawfully in the U.S. after her visa expired.
The couple physically and emotionally abused her, according to authorities. She was beaten and was assaulted with a belt and electrical cord, according to the Washington Post.
At times she would be locked out of the house and would be forced to spend nights in the park, according to the newspaper. She was found sleeping on a bench once.
She was “wearing dirty unkempt clothing and was very visibly scared and nervous,” a police officer wrote, according to the Washington Post. He returned her to the home even though he did not understand why the couple did not call 911, according to the newspaper.
The victim did not know her own age because the suspects never gave her a birthday party, according to the Washington Post.
The victim was able to escape in 2016 with the help of several neighbors.
Witnesses said they believed that the couple hired a nanny because they always saw her working, according to the Washington Post.
Cros-Toure’s lawyer denies the allegations and said the victim was a distant relative sent from Guinea as a child to be raised alongside the couple’s three children.
“The complaint is riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies,” Scott Palmer told The Washington Post in an email. “We look forward to amassing a mountain of evidence to refute the government’s portrayal of our clients and look forward to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father for a better life in the United States.”
Regarding why the girl was not in school, Palmer told the newspaper: “I believe it was an issue complicated by not having a birth certificate or legal guardianship or adoption papers.”
The girl told investigators she lived in a one-room mud hut with no electricity in Guinea, according to the Washington Post.
Mohamed Toure is the son of Ahmed Sekou Toure, who became Guinea’s first president in 1958. Mohamed Toure, who is 57, was imprisoned and later exiled after his father’s death in 1984, according to CNN.
Both suspects, charged with forced labor, appeared in federal court in the Northern District of Texas on Thursday.