More slavery out of Florida, only this time, it’s not far away in the fields–it’s in bustling Miami.
On Tuesday, March 4, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale found mother and daughter Evelyn Theodore and Maude Paulin guilty of slavery, forced labor and harboring an illegal immigrant for keeping a Haitian teen imprisoned six years.
Additionally, Paulin’s ex-husband was found guilty of harboring an illegal immigrant.
During the trial, victim Simone Celestin, who’s now 22, testified that she was brought to Miami from Haiti when she was 14 and that she was forced to sleep on the floor and work 15-hour days cleaning the house, instead of going to school.
Like I write about in the Tulsa chapter of my book, defense attorneys in this case argued the victim made up the slavery charges to secure legal immigration status in the United States. They used the tried and true argument that Celestin was never tied up or locked up. It didn’t fly: prosecutors used an established 2000 law against modern-day slave masters who make use of psychological rather than physical coercion.
Like many slavery cases turning up in the orange groves and tomato fields, Celestin was never chained or physically bound; she didn’t need to be. Her captors exploited her just fine by isolating her and manipulating her fears about her immigration status.
Read the whole article by Vanessa Blum at the South Florida South Sentinel.