New York Couple Convicted in Slavery & Torture Case

They look like nice enough people…

Varsha Mahender Sabhnani of Muttontown, N.Y., is led out of Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola, N.Y., in this May 15, 2007 file photo after her arrest on charges of enslaving two Indonesian women she and her husband brought to their mansion to work as housekeepers. Sabhnani, 45, and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, were each convicted Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 of all charges in a 12-count federal indictment that included forced labor, conspiracy, involuntary servitude, and harboring aliens. (AP Photo/Howard Schnapp, File)

A New York couple who held two Indonesian women as slaves in their home were conviceted today on all charges.
The BBC reported:

A wealthy US couple have been convicted of keeping two Indonesian women as slaves in a New York home and abusing them physically and psychologically.
Indian-born Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, and his wife, Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 45, could face up to 40 years in prison.

They were found guilty on 12 charges, which included involuntary servitude, harbouring aliens and forced labour.

The couple’s lawyer said he would appeal against the verdict.

The wealthy couple, who run a perfume business and have four children, had brought the women to their large house to work as housekeepers, and forced them to work up to 18 hours per day.

The women said they had been beaten with brooms and umbrellas, slashed with knives, made to take freezing showers and climb stairs repeatedly.

One said she had been forced to eat several hot chillies and then her own vomit.

“Apparently, the jury was taken by the histrionics (of the Indonesian women),” defence lawyer Jeffrey Hoffmann told AP.

The “slaves” were punished for eating food from the garbage can when they were hungry:


Prosecutors called it a case of “modern-day slavery.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko said in closing arguments the poorly educated women worked as housekeepers for $100 or $150 a month — all of which was sent to their relatives back home.

Lesko said the women, known only as Samirah (pictured) and Enung, were subjected to “punishment that escalated into a cruel form of torture” that ended when one of the women fled on Mother’s Day.

Allegations of abuse included beatings with brooms and umbrellas, slashings with knives, being made to repeatedly climb stairs and take freezing cold showers as punishment for misdeeds that included sleeping late or stealing food from trash bins because they were poorly fed.

The New York Times has more:

Enung testified that Samirah’s nude body once was covered in plastic wrapping tape on orders from Varsha Sabhnani, who then instructed Enung to rip it off. ”When I pulled it off, she was screaming,” the housekeeper said through an interpreter before breaking down in tears on the witness stand.

What a nice couple.

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