April 27 (UPI) — Federal authorities say a Texas couple has been charged with keeping a young African girl captive as a domestic servant — without pay — for 16 years.
Mohamed Toure and wife Denise appeared in a federal court in Fort Worth where they were charged with forced labor.
The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday the couple arranged for the then-5-year-old girl, who did not speak English, to travel alone from her village in Guinea to Texas in 2000.
Prosecutors said the young girl was forced to cook, clean, do the laundry, perform yard work, paint and care for the Toures’ five children.
Although she was around the same age as the other children, officials said she was denied access to schooling.
Prosecutors said the Toures took the girls’s legal documents and forced her to stay in the United States after her visa expired.
“They further isolated her from her family and others and emotionally and physically abused her,” the department said in a statement.
The girl, now about 21, eventually escaped in August 2016 with neighbors’ help.
If convicted, the Toures could face 20 years in federal prison.