YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A couple charged with enslaving a mentally disabled woman for two years through intimidation, abuse and threats they would harm her young child were found guilty on Friday.
Jordie Callahan and his girlfriend, Jessica Hunt, were convicted by jurors in federal court in Youngstown a day after their lawyers argued prosecutors had built their case around unreliable witnesses.
But prosecutors said the couple kept the woman and her daughter, who was under age 5, in a damp, dark basement with a lock on the door and no bathroom. The couple also threatened both with a python and pit bulls and forced the woman to shop, cook, clean up after their dogs and do other household chores, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Rice said.
Prosecutors said the woman also was forced to engage in sexual acts.
Callahan and Hunt were convicted on charges that included forced labor conspiracy with a kidnapping specification and could be sentenced to as much as life in prison. But they were found not guilty of stealing the woman’s government benefits and tampering with a witness.
Prosecutors said the woman’s ordeal lasted from early 2011 to late 2012. Police in the northern Ohio town of Ashland first got involved when the woman was arrested on a candy bar shoplifting case and asked to be jailed because people had been mean to her.
Silsby testified that Hunt threatened her and forced her to clean the couple’s apartment and that she drove the woman and Hunt to an ATM to get money using the woman’s government funds debit card.
The U.S. attorney’s office said Silsby pleaded guilty to four counts of an indictment charging her with threatening the woman, beating her and making her do housework. An FBI affidavit said Silsby smashed the woman’s hand with a rock so she could go to a hospital and bring back pain medication for the suspects.
The Associated Press isn’t naming the woman or her daughter because prosecutors say the woman was a sexual-abuse victim.
On the same subject...this may surprise you...Abraham Lincoln referred to slavery as a necessity