The mother of an African girl who claimed she was forced to be a domestic servant for a Southlake couple wiped tears Monday afternoon as she testified she tried to hide her daughter in the Republic of Guinea.
But the Guinea woman who was flown to Texas for the trial said she was aware of an arrangement where her then young daughter would travel alone to the United States and live in Texas.
“I didn’t want her to be someone’s slave,” the Guinea woman told a federal jury of eight women and four men on Monday afternoon. Court records identified the girl who is now an adult as D.D., and she was called Jenna during Monday’s testimony.
Jenna’s mother was not being identified by the Star-Telegram because federal authorities have not identified the young woman.
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Defense attorneys questioned Jenna’s mother as to why she never called authorities and never traveled to America to get her daughter.
Mohamed Toure and his wife, Denise Cros-Toure, both 57, are accused of forcing the young African girl to be a domestic servant for years.
Defense attorneys for the Toures have argued the girl went on domestic vacations with the Toure family, left the home on her own, engaged in social media and even jogged in the neighborhood.
On Monday, family friend Hassane Diane told jurors he noticed Jenna supervised the Toures’ children and helped keep the house clean during his visits to the Toures’ home in Southlake.
“I was very shocked,” Diane testified when asked what his reaction was when he heard about the Toures’ arrest. “She was like Mrs. Toure’s daughter. She had house keys, she went to the bank. I would have noticed if anything was wrong.”
The Toures were arrested on April 26 after being accused of forced labor. Mohamed Toure was also charged with making false statements to federal agents.
They were indicted in September on federal charges of forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain, and conspiracies to commit forced labor and alien harboring.
On the forced labor charge, if convicted, the couple faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
The girl escaped from the couple’s home in 2016 with the help of several former neighbors, according to federal court documents.
The couple and other people had arranged for the then-5-year-old girl, who did not speak English, to travel alone from her village in the Republic of Guinea to Southlake in January 2000, according to federal court documents.
For the next 16 years, the couple required the girl to cook, clean, do yard work, paint, do the laundry and take care of the Toures’ five children without paying her, court documents say.
Often, the girl worked long hours, federal agents said in court documents.
The girl was the same age as several of the Toures’ children, but federal agents say she was never given opportunities afforded to the Toure children.
The couple is accused of taking her documents and keeping her in the United States unlawfully after her visa expired.
She was isolated from her family, according to court documents.