A federal jury has found a suburban North Texas couple guilty of enslaving a Guinean woman for 16 years.
“The defendants preyed on a young and extremely vulnerable girl. 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.”
Jurors found Mohamed Toure and his wife, Denise Cros-Toure, guilty Thursday of forced labor. They face up to 20 years in prison, but no sentencing date was immediately set.
Toure is the son of a former president of the West African country of Guinea. The Southlake, Texas, pair was accused of bringing the 5-year-old girl from her rural Guinean village in 2000 and forcing her to work without pay in their home for years. Authorities began investigating after the victim fled the couple’s home in 2016.
The accusations against the Toures have rocked their community in Southlake. In a criminal complaint, federal investigators claim the couple flew the young girl from Guinea to Texas in the year 2000. According to those documents, the girl was as young as 5 at the time. Cros-Toure’s attorney believes she was closer to 13.
The girl told authorities she worked from sunrise to bedtime seven days a week, doing housework, yard work and childcare. She told them she wasn’t educated and often slept on the floor, and investigators said she had scars on her arms consistent with being struck with an electrical cord.
“In the criminal complaint, it said you guys physically and emotionally abused her,” we said to Cros-Toure.
“Of course not,” she responded. “We would not do that to anybody.”
Cros-Toure’s attorney Scott Palmer released photos of the girl, who’s now much older, from Instagram, indicating she had a normal life. Palmer said the family treated her like a daughter.
Authorities said she escaped in 2016 and is now with family in Houston.