Warning: Content is disturbing
A mother and daughter have been sentenced to a combined 32 years in prison after authorities say the duo obtained "forced, unpaid household labor and services" from a woman with cognitive disabilities identified only as D.B. Raylaine Knope, 43, was sentenced to 28 years in prison and her daughter, Bridget Lambert, 22, was sentenced to 48 months. The duo used horrific verbal, physical, and psychological abuse to enslave the woman between Aug. 13, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
"Knope and Lambert conspired to brutally coerce a vulnerable victim with disabilities to work long hours in despicable conditions and with no monetary compensation," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement. "The Department of Justice continues to combat human trafficking by forced labor and today’s sentencing reflects the Division’s commitment to seeking justice for the most vulnerable victims in our society."
Under President Trump, the DOJ has made the crackdown on human trafficking one of its top priorities. For example, In June, a DOJ initiative called, “Operation Broken Heart" resulted in 1,7000 arrests nation wide for abuse of children.
According to the DOJ, "Knope pleaded guilty to one count of a forced labor conspiracy, one count of a substantive forced labor violation, and one count of misprision of a felony." Her daughter "pleaded guilty to one count of a forced labor conspiracy."
During Knope's hearing, the mother "admitted that she forced D.P. to live in a locked backyard cage and to perform housework and yard work in exchange for food and water." She also said that she and Lambert "subjected D.P. to routine physical abuse, threats, and verbal and psychological abuse designed to ensure D.P.’s continued compliance with the family’s orders." Most shockingly, Knope admitted that "that she once forced D.P. to eat D.P.’s deceased mother’s cremated ashes."
Lambert admitted during her testimony that she subjugated D.P. to horrendous abuse such as striking her "in the head with a wooden board, causing D.P. to bleed from her head, and on another occasion advanced the conspiracy by holding D.P.’s arm in place so that a fellow conspirator could punish D.P. by burning her with a cigarette lighter."
"The defendants’ actions in this matter were nothing short of cruel and inhumane. Both Raylaine Knope and Bridget Lambert mistreated and psychologically abused another human being, a family member, and someone who should have been considered a loved one,” said Special Agent in Charge Bryan A. Vorndran of the FBI New Orleans Field Office.
"As the primary federal agency responsible for investigating allegations regarding violations of federal civil rights statutes, the FBI will continue to protect the civil rights of all persons—citizens and non-citizens alike." Vorndran added. "I applaud the tremendous efforts put forth by the men and women of the FBI New Orleans Field Office, the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Louisiana, and Tangipahoa District Attorney’s Office to bring these defendants to justice."
This isn't the first case this year the DOJ has prosecuted featuring this sort of wickedness. In July, a Maryland woman plead guilty to enslaving an illegal alien as part of a human trafficking scheme.