LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire – A former Miami-area middle school teacher, Maude Paulin, and her ex-husband, Saintfort Paulin, were sentenced today in federal court for committing federal civil rights offenses when they forced a young Haitian teenager to work as a domestic servant in their home, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R. Alexander Acosta. U.S. Senior District Judge Jose A. Gonzalez sentenced Maude Paulin to 87 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered that she, jointly with her co-defendant, pay $162,765 in restitution to the victim. Saintfort Paulin was sentenced to 18 months of probation, including six months home confinement. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.
On March 4, 2008, a federal jury found Maude Paulin and her mother, co-defendant Evelyn Theodore, guilty of conspiring to violate the victim’s civil rights and of forcing the victim to work for them. The jury also found Maude Paulin, Theodore and Saintfort Paulin guilty of harboring an illegal alien. A fourth defendant, Claire Telasco, was acquitted of the conspiracy and forced labor charges. Due to an illness, Theodore’s sentencing date has not yet been determined.
The evidence at trial revealed that in 1999, Maude and Saintfort Paulin and Theodore arranged for the then-14-year-old victim to be brought illegally to the Miami-area from Haiti to work in Theodore and Paulin’s home. Between 1999 and June 2005, Theodore and Maude Paulin forced the victim to work in their home as a domestic servant. The victim typically worked up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, cooking, cleaning and doing other household and yard work for the defendants. Theodore and Maude Paulin compelled the victim to perform this work through a combination of psychological coercion and physical force, including striking the victim with their hands, fists and other objects and threatening to have the victim jailed and sent to Haiti if she refused to work. The victim was not paid for her work, nor was she provided formal or informal schooling despite her young age. In June 2005, the victim escaped from the defendants with the assistance of a family friend who had witnessed this treatment.
“These defendants coerced a vulnerable 14-year-old girl into their personal service for six years,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker. “I applaud the courage of the victim in this case, who made this prosecution possible. The Department of Justice is committed to work vigorously to end this type of forced servitude.”
“Today’s sentence is a first step in bringing justice to the victim and punishes those who enslaved this young girl for six years. Unfortunately, however, there is nothing we can do to restore the childhood that was stolen from her,” said R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Human trafficking prosecutions such as this one are a top priority of the Department of Justice. In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years. In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.
This case was investigated by agents from the Miami Division of the FBI, the Miami-Dade County Police Department and the Miami Field Office of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward Chung and Cyra O’Daniel from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Tantillo from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.