Embassy Worker Owes $3.3 Million to Escaped Sex Slave
(CN) - A Virginia federal judge awarded $3.3 million to a Yemeni woman who was enslaved by a State Department employee and repeatedly raped by that worker's husband.
The 12-page decision does not name the woman who was kept in involuntary servitude for three months in 2009.
Linda and Russell Howard lured her to Tokyo in December 2008 with promises that she would earn $200 a month cleaning their home in the U.S. Embassy compound.
The Howards allegedly said they would quickly raise her salary to $300 a month, give her a day off every week, and a safe place to live at the Embassy compound.
Instead, Jane Doe says she was repeatedly raped and forced to work more than 80 hours per week, earning $0.88 per hour.
"At trial, plaintiff testified that Russell Howard raped her at least four times, and that he forced her to perform oral sex approximately ten times, and that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her," U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady said. "Plaintiff testified that Linda Howard was complicit in her husband's sexual abuse, telling plaintiff that she should gratify Russell Howard and make Russell happy."
Russell Howard allegedly told Doe that the couple had "several previous domestic workers from whom he demanded sex, including threesome sexual contact with both of the Howards. He told Mrs. Doe that prior workers who refused to comply with his requests had been fired."
In addition to the sexual abuse, Russell Howard also would not let Doe practice her religion.
"The Howards controlled all aspects of Mrs. Does' life in Tokyo, including limiting her contacts with the outside worlds, monitoring her telephone calls, and generally forbidding her from leaving the house without being accompanied by one of them," the court found. "Mrs. Doe was a virtual prisoner in the Tokyo apartment, and she was berated if she took too long to run short errands."
Doe escaped in March 2009, but Russell Howard tried to find her, even as the State Department began investigating him for human trafficking. Russell Howard flew from Virginia to Ethiopia where he tried to ferret Doe's whereabouts out of her husband. When Doe's husband refused the repeated requests, Russell Howard then tried to get the Ethiopian police to search, and he tried to file bogus criminal charges against her.
O'Grady adopted the report of the magistrate judge and entered a default against Linda and Russell Howard earlier this year, finding them liable for trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, conspiracy, obstructing law enforcement and unjust enrichment.
After holding a damages hearing in August , O'Grady awarded Doe $1.3 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. The 12-page decision notes that the award reflects "the Howards' intentional egregious and outrageous conduct, and the fact that Mrs. Doe continues to live in a constant state of terror."
According to Linda Howard's profile on the professional-networking website LinkedIn, she is currently an IT manager with the State Department in Washington, D.C.
The profile notes that Howard worked as a manager for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2008 to 2009. Before that, Howard worked for three years at the Embassy in Yemen, according to the profile.