A Texas couple accused of enslaving an African girl for nearly 16 years has been found guilty of forced labor by a federal jury in Tarrant County Thursday evening, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Mohamed Toure, 57, and his wife Denise Cros-Toure, 57, were also found guilty of conspiracy to harbor an alien. The couple was found not guilty on two other related charges.
They face a maximum of 20 years in prison for the charge of forced labor. The jury also decided that property owned by the couple will be forfeited because it was used to facilitate the crime, according to the newspaper.
What's the background?
The victim, Djena Diallo, traveled to the U.S. from the West African country of Guinea in 2000 to live with the couple in Southlake, an affluent suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth. She was 5 years old at the time, according to court documents.
Diallo said she was forced to work from sunrise to bedtime, seven days a week. She had to cook, clean, do laundry, paint, and do yard work, as well as care for the couple's' five children without pay, according to court documents.
The victim eventually escaped in 2016 with the help of former neighbors. She lives in the Houston area.
What happened in court?
Defense attorneys had argued that Diallo had vacationed with the Toure family and that she used social media and jogged in the neighborhood.
Jurors deliberated the case for more than eight hours.
One of the Toures' daughters burst into tears when the judge read the verdict, according to the Star-Telegram.
The couple was immediately taken into federal custody.
"I'm absolutely devastated," attorney Brady T. Wyatt III of Dallas told the newspaper. "A family has been destroyed. The government told a story and we contradicted it."
Mohamed Toure is the son of Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, who served from 1958 until his death in 1984. Cros-Toure's father was the country's secretary of state.
The sentencing date is not yet clear, but attorneys for the couple plan to appeal the verdict.