A Texas couple who enslaved a young Guinean woman for 16 years were each sentenced to seven years in federal prison, authorities said on April 23.
Mohamed Toure, 58, and his wife Denise Cros-Toure, 58, from Southlake, Texas, were convicted by a federal jury in January of forcing the girl to work for their family without payment from the time she was about 5 years old. The couple were also ordered to pay $288,620.24 in restitution.
The couple, who are citizens of Guinea and lawful permanent residents in the US, may be deported after they serve their time in prison, authorities said in a statement. Toure is the son of Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, and his wife is the daughter of the West African nation’s secretary of state, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“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. The defendants stole her childhood and her labor for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement.
In 2000, the couple arranged for the girl, who was then 5 years old, to travel from a rural Guinean community to their home in Texas on a tourist visa, according to The New York Times.
Once in Southlake, the girl was forced to begin work by 7 a.m. each day. She was tasked with cleaning, making beds, cooking, and gardening. The girl, who was identified in court documents as “DD” and later as Djena Diallo by The Dallas Morning News, also had to care for the couple’s five children.
Diallo was physically, emotionally, and verbally punished whenever she disobeyed or failed to perform her chores to the couple’s satisfaction, authorities said. She was called a “dog,” “slave,” and “worthless,” and was repeatedly struck. Authorities said punishments included forcing Diallo to sleep at the park alone, shaving her head, and hosing her down outside.
The victim was isolated from her family and society and was barred from getting an education, authorities said.
Toure and Cros-Toure were indicted in September. During the trial, Diallo said she was occasionally allowed to walk out of the home and participate in family trips. She ran away from the home in June 2016 after fighting with the couple.
Diallo told authorities that she spent a night with a witness she had previously babysat for. The witness’ friend allowed Diallo to stay with her for a week, but Diallo then returned to the Toure’s home, The Times reported. She said she was prohibited from leaving and that she contemplated suicide.
In August 2016, Diallo reached out to a former neighbor and told them of the situation. The neighbor encouraged her to collect evidence that proved her situation. She was eventually able to escape the Toure’s home and was taken to a local YMCA.
“Forced labor trafficking cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute — in part because victims are often afraid to speak out,” US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a statement. “It took tremendous courage for this young woman to share her story at trial.”
Cox continued, “I want to commend her, as well as the witnesses who helped shine a light one her circumstances. If we want to wipe out human trafficking, we need to remind witnesses to speak up, and ask the community to remain alert.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.