[Stop-traffic] News/US: Couple convicted of enslaving Nigerian girls

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Couple convicted of enslaving Nigerian girls
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Jul 30 2000 - 11:38:47 EDT

Two more traffickers have been convicted! This is great news.



                   Couple convicted of enslaving Nigerian girls

RTw 6-15-00 10:32 PM

Reuters Ltd.

     By Gail Appleson, Law Correspondent
      NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - A federal jury has convicted a former
New York City child welfare worker and her husband for smuggling two young
Nigerian girls into the United States and beating and forcing them to be
their servants.
      Prosper Emeka Udogwu, 49, and Ifeoma Ezeonu Udogwu, 40, who had been
living in Elmsford, New York, were convicted late Wednesday by a Manhattan
federal jury.
      The couple was convicted of all charges against them including
involuntary servitude, inducing an alien to enter the United States, and
various immigration offences and making false statements to the Immigration
and Naturalisation Service. Prosper Udogwu faces a possible maximum prison
term of 40 years and his wife faces a possible 45 year term.
      Until she was arrested in July 1999, Ifeoma Udogwu had been employed
by New York City's Administration for Children's Services where her duties
included investigating child abuse cases. She had been employed by ACS
since 1988 and had investigated child abuse cases until 1998.
      At the time of her arrest she had evaluated the placement needs of
children coming into foster care.
      Ifeoma Udogwu was also convicted of mail fraud in connection with a
scheme to fraudulently obtain thousands of dollars of Social Security
benefits that were supposed to be paid to her young niece and nephew.
Udogwu had claimed she would take care of the children when in fact she had
sent them back to Nigeria.
      Prosecutors said in 1987 the couple brought a 10-year old girl named
Rosemary from Nigeria to be their servant and to provide child care for
their own children who were under the age of three at the time.
      The evidence showed that the Udogwus did not enroll Rosemary in school
until authorities began questioning them about her presence in the home. To
avoid any further investigation, they sent her back to Nigeria.
      Later in 1989, the couple smuggled another girl Beatrice, who was 13
at the time, into the United States. She was forced to work as a servant
for about nine years.
      They barred her from speaking to anyone outside their home, forbade
her from using the telephone, withheld her identification and other
documents, threatened to harm her family and beat her so severely that she
was scarred.
      In one 1993 incident, Prosper Udogwu beat her so hard that she fell
down the stairs, cutting her arm on the stair rail. An FBI agent said in
court papers that the girl's arm is still scarred from the beating. The
agent alleged that there were incidents between 1989 and 1998 in which the
girl was forced to kneel on the floor and hold her hands above her head for
long periods of time while she was beaten. The agent said the girl's knees
are still scarred and discoloured.
      In August 1998, when Beatrice said she wanted to leave the house, the
couple refused to release her green card and beat her for more than an
hour. The case came to light when the girl's screams caused neighbours to
call the police.
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