A Texas couple has been accused of holding a Guinean girl against her will for more than a decade, all the while subjecting her to abuse and forcing her to perform household chores.
Mohamed Toure and his wife, Denise Cros-Toure, both 57, allegedly forced the girl to sleep on the floor in their Southlake home and subjected her to beatings with belts and electrical cords, federal investigators said.
According to the Justice Department, the girl, who is not named in court documents, does not even know her birthdate. She told authorities the Toure family brought her to the United States from Guinea in 2000, when she was about 5 years old. She said the family never celebrated her birthday or enrolled her in school.
“Throughout the years … the defendants forced the victim to labor in their home for long hours without pay,” the Justice Department said in an April 26 press release. “The defendants required her to cook, clean, do the laundry, perform yard work, and paint, as well as care for their five children.”
The criminal complaint filed by prosecutors further alleges the girl was regularly referred to as “a little nothing,” a slave, and on at least one occasion, a whore. She also allegedly told investigators Cros-Toure once assaulted her by grabbing one of her earrings and yanking it with such force that it tore her earlobe. The investigative documents indicate the girl has a visible scar on one of her ears.
Toure and his wife are natives of Guinea, and he is the son of Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, according to CNN. The Dallas Morning News reported that Cros-Toure’s father was the nation’s secretary of state at one point.
The couple lives in a $600,000 home and receives income from “significant” overseas deposits, the Morning News said.
A 2002 police report obtained by The Washington Post indicates a Southlake police officer once found the girl sleeping on a bench at Bicentennial Park. She was “wearing dirty unkempt clothing and was very visibly scared and nervous,” the officer wrote. The cop, who suspected the girl was a runaway, returned her to the Toure residence.
It was not until 2016, after neighbors helped the girl escape, that authorities opened an investigation, according to court documents. That investigation came to a head on Wednesday, when Mohamed Toure and his wife were arrested and charged with forced, unpaid labor of a domestic servant.
A lawyer for the couple, Scott H. Palmer, said in a statement sent to The Dallas Morning News that the criminal complaint against his clients “is riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications and lies.”
Palmer claims the girl was treated like a member of the Toure family and was allowed to communicate with relatives in Guinea, the outlet reported.
“We look forward to amassing a mountain of evidence to refute the Government’s portrayal of our clients,” Palmer said, “and look forward to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father for a better life in the United States.”
If convicted, Toure and his wife face up to 20 years in prison.