Slavery was not over in the home of Michael and Juna Babb.
On Friday the Ellenwood, Georgia, couple pleaded guilty in federal court to felony charges related to a labor scheme involving a young woman from the Kingdom of Swaziland in Southern Africa that was in fact human trafficking.
The victim, in her 20s, was asked to cook at Juna Gwendolyn Babb’s wedding by Babb during a visit to Swaziland. Accepting the offer, the two headed to the United States. Upon arrival, however, the unnamed victim was in for a surprise. There was no wedding. Instead, the Swaziland cook was forced to work as a housekeeper for almost two years for little to no pay.
“Few crimes are more shocking than the trafficking of human beings in this country,” said Brock Nicholson, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent. “No one should have to live in a world of isolation and forced servitude.”
Babb’s husband, Michael Babb, a minister, knew of the wrongdoing taking place in his home, but failed to notify authorities. He even lied to FBI special agents when asked if the victim worked as the housekeeper.
“This young woman believed that she was only traveling to the United States for a brief visit to help with a wedding,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Instead, she was compelled to labor for the defendants for more than two years. It is especially disturbing that the victim was exploited by a minister and his wife.”
Juna Babb pleaded guilty to harboring an alien for financial gain and Michael Babb pleaded guilty to misprision of “a felony for concealing his wife’s criminal conduct and for lying to federal agents,” reports the Department of Justice.
Both defendants will pay $25,000 in restitution for the victim’s unpaid labor. Juna Babb could spend up to 10 years in prison and Michael Babb up to three.
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(Photo: Dan Bannister/Getty Images)
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