Attorneys defended a Southlake couple accused of forcing a girl from Africa to work for them and never enrolling her in school. Authorities say the abuse went on for 16 years.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Mohamed Toure and his wife Denise Cros-Toure with forced labor of a domestic servant after claiming the girl escaped the home with help from neighbors.
But the couple’s attorneys argued on Friday that the government's case is riddled with salacious allegations and lies.
The attorneys provided FOX 4 with photos of the girl from her Instagram account. The couple’s attorneys say the photos contradict the government's claim that she wore old clothes and didn't get help styling her hair.
The Toures have five children, now ages 15 to 27. Attorney Scott Palmer says his team spent two hours Thursday night talking to the adult children.
“They said she was not a nanny, so to speak. She did cook. She did clean. They all did,” Palmer said. “When you see her Instagram, she loves to take pictures of food. She is, apparently, a good cook. She's a runner. She came and went as she pleased. She'd go to track meets and hockey games."
The federal complaint says the victim’s passport showed she was 5 years old when she was put on a plane by herself from Africa to come live with the Toures.
Palmer says the children she lived with contradict that and believe she was 12 or 13 years old when she arrived. But he admits the Toures never enrolled her in school.
“It's certainly troubling most people ask, ‘Why didn't she go to school?’ We will have to give an explanation that neutralizes that question,” Palmer said. “We're going to look into it. Frankly, I don't have the answer now."
The complaint says the victim told investigators that she began work at 7:00 a.m. and would cook, clean, mow the lawn, paint and take care of the Toure children until they went to bed. It says for years she was required to sleep on the floor and suffered physical abuse. One account describes her earring being ripped out, leaving a scar. Attorneys dispute all of the allegations.
“If she was treated well, why would she make all of this up?” asked reporter Lori Brown.
“I don't know,” Palmer said. “I can't speculate as to why other than she decided she wanted to leave and had decided to concoct this story to stay. Eventually, you're going to be caught. Walking down the street. Officer asks for identification.”
Palmer says he believes the girl, who is now an adult, is with other relatives in Houston.
As for why she was sent here to begin with, Palmer says both Mohamed and Denise are very politically connected in Guinea, where the child came from. He says she was sent to live with a wealthier family for the opportunity at a better life.