Mohamed Toure, the son of Guinea’s first President, Ahmed Sekou Toure, and his wife have been sentenced to seven years in prison and nearly $300,000 in restitution for forced labour, conspiracy to harbour an alien and alien harbouring.
Toure and his wife, Denise Cros-Toure, both 58, were convicted early 2019 after they were charged last year following a criminal complaint of abusing and neglecting a girl for 16 years whom they brought from Guinea to Texas in 2000 when she was only 5 years old.
The couple were accused of imposing forced labour on the girl for 16 years by making her care for their children, cook, clean and mow the lawn until she escaped from their Southlake residence in 2016 with the help of neighbours when she was 21.
They were facing a maximum sentence of 20 years for forced labour, 10 years for conspiracy to commit alien harbouring, and 5 years for alien harbouring until Monday’s sentencing. Their lawyer said they were pleased with the reduced sentence despite denying the girl’s claims.
Scott Palmer, Cros-Toure’s attorney, says the couple didn’t pay the girl for her work because she was like family.”They didn’t pay her, but you don’t pay family members to clean your own house … She lived there, like anyone else did,” said their lawyer Scott Palmer who added that the couple had wanted to adopt the girl.
However, the Department of Justice said the couple physically, emotionally and verbally punished her when she disobeyed them or did not perform her tasks as expected.
The Justice Department said the lawful permanent residents of the U.S. may lose their US immigration status and be deported to Guinea after serving their time.
“I hope that today’s sentence brings some measure of justice and healing to the victim, who suffered untold trauma as a result of the defendants’ heinous crimes,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a press release.
“The defendants stole her childhood and her labour for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future,” he added.
The girl, who was not named, is claimed to have been living in a one-room mud hut with her family in Guinea when her father, who worked as a farmer, urged her to go into the city to work. She soon began working for Cros-Toure’s family in Guinea, according to the 2018 complaint.
In January 2000, she was flown to the Toure residence in Southlake where her first job was to care for the couple’s youngest son, who was about two years old at the time. She did not speak English when she arrived and was not enrolled in school, reports CNN.
Mohamed Toure is a prominent figure in Guinea due to his father, Ahmed Sekou Toure. He was a leader of the political opposition party in Guinea but has no diplomatic immunity or status.