A couple in Southlake, Texas — a suburb of the Dallas/Forth Worth area — is accused of slavery after an African girl allegedly held captive at their home managed to escape.
Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure, who are both 57 years old, were indicted on multiple charges Wednesday in federal court, according to the Dallas Morning News. The two are accused of committing forced labor, harboring an alien for illegal gain, as well as conspiracy charges for both alleged crimes. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
The Morning News reported that a young girl fled the couple’s home in 2016 with two bags of her personal belongings, prompting law enforcement to launch an investigation. The Toures were eventually arrested in April of this year and placed on house arrest at their $600,000 home after they were released. The victim, who is unidentified as of this writing, was put on a plane from Guinea to the United States in 2000, when she was between the ages of five and 13.
In court documents the Morning News reviewed, the victim told investigators that she would start work after the five Toure children went to school, doing everything from cleaning the house and mowing the lawn to painting the home. She was never given a bed, and was forced to sleep on the floor and was only given the children’s hand-me-down clothes to wear. She was never allowed to play with any of the other children, and was prevented from ever learning how to ride a bike, using a computer, or even caring for her hair. Because the family never celebrated the alleged slave’s birthday, it’s unclear how old she is now.
In addition to being allegedly forced into slavery, the girl also claimed she was beaten and abused on multiple occasions. Court documents reveal that the victim was beaten with a belt, an electrical cord, and even had an earring ripped out of her left earlobe.
Toure family attorney Scott H. Palmer, said the trial would eventually prove the family’s case that the girl was “never enslaved, forced to do anything against her will, never beaten, never threatened.” He argued the criminal complaint lodged against the couple was “riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications and lies.”
Federal human trafficking code, which forced labor falls under, defines forced labor as “a condition of slavery” or “a condition of compulsory service or labor against his/her will,” and that for a jury to convict on the charge, the alleged victim must have been “held against his/her will by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion.” That section also says an alleged perpetrator can be convicted on forced labor charges by creating “a ‘climate of fear’ through the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion.”
The Toure family is well-known in their home country of Guinea. The Morning News reported that Mohamed Toure is the son of former Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Toure, who held absolute rule over the country for decades. Brittanica.com described him as ruling “with an iron hand.”
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.