UPDATE: Homeland Security cares for starved, beaten nanny from Woodbury
In the case of a nanny from China who was allegedly detained, beaten and starved, Lili Huang, 35, of Woodbury was charged last Friday with five felony counts related to human labor trafficking.
Huang, who was was being held on $350,000 to $1 million bail, appeared in Washington County District Court the day after the incident and on Aug. 18 is scheduled to return to court to face charges of labor trafficking, felony seizing passport with intent to violate labor trafficking, false imprisonment, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, and third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm.
“Human labor trafficking is a crime that no one can believe exists in their community," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said in a statement.
"However, it is here, it is being committed by some of our citizens, and it amounts to nothing less than slavery in the 21st century. We are determined, as part of this office’s major prosecution unit, to attack this issue just as we have attacked sex trafficking of juveniles."
Huang, who brought her nanny from China, has lived in Woodbury since 2014, according to property records, but owned a $500,000 house along Wellington Lane for just more than a year.
Huang lived with her children, husband, father and the nanny, who cooked, cleaned and took care of the children.
“She nannied for them in China, and everything was fine,” said Fred Fink, criminal division chief of the Washington County Attorney's Office. “She was told the family was coming to the U.S. and she said fine. That’s when everything went south.”
In Woodbury, the nanny was never let outside the house, suffered severe beatings and had rationed crackers in her bedroom, according to the court complaint. Late last Wednesday night, Huang’s father intervened in a beating after which the victim escaped.
When Woodbury police approached the 58-year-old victim early Thursday morning, she was near the intersection of Bailey Road and Radio Drive, heading toward the airport.
“She had seen planes taking off from that direction and didn’t know how far away it was,” Fink said. “It’s really a tragic situation.”
Homeland Security, one of Woodbury Public Safety’s partner agencies on the case, “took the lead in getting the victim treated and further cared for,” said Michelle Okada, public information officer. “They will work to support her through immediate care needs, and assisting her in getting back home when the time comes.”
Both the victim and the suspect speak Mandarin Chinese, Fink said, prompting the need for interpreters.
Bail was set at $350,000 with conditions or $1 million without conditions.
According to the complaint:
The victim was seen wandering streets in Woodbury after midnight. She had numerous injuries, including two black eyes, broken ribs and a broken sternum. She had numerous bruises. The woman told Woodbury police officers that she was from Shanghai, China, and was “hired” as a “nanny” by Huang who lived at 9716 Wellington Lane.
After the nanny moved from China to Woodbury with the very wealthy Huang family, the nanny was provided a room and $890 a month for nanny services of the children. She was forced to work up to 18 hours a day, so her wages amounted to no more than $1.87 an hour, police calculated.
The nanny was physically assaulted by defendant, sometimes in front of the children. When this occurred she told Huang she wanted to return to China.
Huang took and locked the victim’s passport in a safe and told the woman she was “not going anywhere.”
Physical assaults occurred on July 4 with Huang grabbing the woman’s hair and bashing her head into the table and other hard objects.
On July 10, the woman was so disabled by beatings that she could not get up. She told police she was forced to walk around the house on her hands and knees “like a dog for four hours.”
She took cellphone photos of her injuries and the house where she was detained, police noted. They showed cuts, scrapes and bruises.
Last Wednesday, after the woman accidentally spilled food on the counter while cooking, Huang punched and slapped the victim, threatening to kill her with a knife, until Huang’s father intervened.
The victim got away, afraid and with multiple fractured bones.
Police described the woman as extraordinarily and unhealthily thin. The woman stated that when she came to the U.S. she weighed 120 pounds and now weighed 88 pounds. The woman stated that the defendant allowed her to eat very little and when she did it was just scraps. She was videotaped so that she didn’t take any food, but in her room the nanny kept hidden several baggies of crackers in rations.
She was running to the airport when police received a 911 call to check her welfare.
Police confiscated surveillance equipment, computers and cellphones at the residence, and examination of the items is pending.