Former Tennis Pro Sentenced To Prison For Keeping African ‘Slaves’
A former tennis pro, Jean-Claude Toviave, accused of fraudulently bringing four children from Togo to the U.S. and forcing them to work as slaves in his Michigan home was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison.
The four children emigrated from Togo in 2006 with fraudulent immigration paperwork that listed them as being Toviave’s biological children, which they are not.
According to the victims, they were forced to vacuum, iron, cook, clean and shine shoes at the home in Ypsilanti, near Ann Arbor, for nearly five years until January 2011. They were with toilet plungers, broomsticks and electrical cords, and starved if they didn’t follow orders.
One of the victims’ statements read,
“The physical torture, beating me and starving me, you inflicted was so painful that I prayed at night that God would either help me to be free or allow your assaults to kill me,” wrote the unnamed victim. “The pain is something I will never forget. In the midst of your verbal and physical assaults, you worked the four of us to death.”
A jury convicted Toviave of four counts of forced labor in October. He previously pleaded guilty to fraud and misuse of visas, mail fraud and harboring aliens.
Toviave, who didn’t apologize or show remorse when provided the opportunity to speak at his sentencing hearing in Detroit, also was ordered to pay two of the children $60,000 each.
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