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Haitian was kept as slave, jury rules

FORT LAUDERDALE — A mother and daughter were found guilty Tuesday of keeping a Haitian teen as their slave for six years in their South Florida home.

Evelyn Theodore and her daughter, Maude Paulin, were convicted of conspiring to violate Simone Celestin's 13th Amendment rights to be free from slavery and forcing her to work for them.

Paulin was also convicted of harboring an illegal alien for financial gain.

Paulin's ex-husband and her mother, Theodore, were found not guilty of harboring an illegal alien for financial gain, but were convicted on a lesser charge of harboring an illegal alien.

Claire Telasco, Paulin's sister, was acquitted of conspiracy and forced labor charges.

The jury deliberated for a little more than five hours before returning a verdict.

Paulin's biological daughter ran from the courtroom crying as the verdicts were read. Other relatives gasped in relief when Telasco's not guilty verdicts were read.

Celestin was not present for the verdict, though she testified last week.

Celestin, now 22, testified Wednesday that she considered suicide after years of beatings and intimidation. She tearfully described sleeping on the floor, rummaging through castoff clothes in the garage for something to wear, bathing from a bucket or a garden hose and scrubbing floors when she should have been in school.

She said Theodore and Maude Paulin often struck her if she didn't finish the work to their satisfaction.

Defense attorneys argued that Celestin's allegations were motivated by her desire to be a permanent legal resident.

Attorneys for Paulin and Theodore said each faces seven to 10 years in prison and said they would appeal. Sentencing is set for May.

Haitian was kept as slave, jury rules 03/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:26am]
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