A Nigerian couple living in Texas, Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu, are accused of holding a Nigerian nanny against her will for over two years while they forced her to work without pay, while physically and verbally abusing her.
The nanny who was living in Lagos, Nigeria, started living with the Nsobundus in September 2013. She claims she was forced to care for their five children and home without pay, made to work nearly 20 hours (from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m) a day and told to sleep on the floor, federal authorities say.
The 38-year-old nanny (names withheld) also alleges the family did not allow her to eat fresh food and that she was only allowed to eat leftovers from the family’s meals. She also couldn’t take hot showers.
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The family initially promised her a $100 per month salary which she says was never given to her in her two years working for the Nsobundus in their home in the Houston suburb of Katy.
She regularly endured physical and verbal abuse and was not treated like a human being, the criminal complaint said.
If she wanted milk for her tea, the nanny said she would have to strain milk from the children’s cereal bowls.
The nanny alleged Sandra Nsobundu repeatedly hit her if she thought the woman wasn’t doing her job correctly, saying she was severely abused in the home and was once even dragged down the hallway by her hair.
The complaint said Sandra Nsobundu is accused of once striking the nanny across the face with a slipper and threatening to “shoot her and kill her” after not liking the socks the woman had put on one of the younger children.
Chudy (56) and Sandra (50) Nsobundu, who are naturalized American citizens in Katy, Texas, were arrested Monday in Houston on charges of forced labor, withholding documents, conspiracy to harbor an illegal immigrant and visa fraud. Authorities say the couple seized the nanny’s passport, so she was unable to leave.
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After a tip to the police and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the alleged victim was rescued on October of last year and the case investigated for over four months before the arrest this week.
The Nsobundus made their initial court appearances Tuesday during separate court hearings. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson granted Sandra Nsobundu, 50, an unsecured bond and Chudy Nsobundu, 56, a $5,000 bond.
The judge asked Chudy Nsobundu to hire an attorney after he didn’t qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. During his court hearing, Chudy Nsobundu said he runs a business that provides home health care services.
It wasn’t immediately known if both would be released later Tuesday. Prosecutors had asked that Chudy Nsobundu be held without bond, arguing he was a flight risk.
The couple could face up to 60 years in federal prison if convicted.