Today, the testimony of Simone Celestin, a 23-year-old immigrant from Haiti who was brought to Florida nine years ago to be sent to school and ended up a slave to her sponsors about whom I wrote in March, compelled jurors to convict Evelyn Theodore, 74, and Maude Paulin, her 52-year-old daughter, of conspiracy to violate Celestin’s civil rights and forced labor.
Theodore and Paulin are scheduled to be sentenced this Tuesday, May, 20.
According to the New York Times, Celestin told jurors that her situation was so dire she contemplated suicide, debating one day in March 2004 whether she should drink motor oil or bleach after she was beaten for not making the bed properly.
“Victims like this woman are often scared to go to police or immigration because they are afraid they will be treated like a criminal,” said Mark Lagon, director of the department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “There is certainly a pattern of people being vulnerable and used any way they are wanted.”
There is also news in the case of Nona and Samirah, the two Indonesian women who were forced to labor in the house of perfume-maker Mahendra Sabhnani, who was convicted along with his wife, Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, of modern day slavery. The Indo-Asian News Service is reporting that Mahendra Sabhnani has violated his bail agreement by staying out past midnight while he awaits sentencing. His attorney said there must have been some confusion in regard to the length of time his client is allowed out for dinner.
Varsha Sabhnani is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, and her husband the next day.
So one victory and one minor bump on the road to justice.
Edit, May 20: judge berates Sabhnani for taking advantage of the courts and prohibits any more late dinners, read the piece at the New York Times.