Flushing couple indicted on labor trafficking charges

Wikimedia Commons/Joi Ito
Wikimedia Commons/Joi Ito

Authorities say two children, ages 8 and 11 at the time, were forced to work and turn over salaries to their host family in America all while sleeping on the floor and providing massages.

Sook Yeong Park, 49, and Jeong Taek Lee, 53, both of 196 Street in Flushing, Queens, were indicted this week on charges of second-degree grand larceny, labor trafficking, endangering the welfare of a child, second- and third-degree assault, forcible touching, petit larceny and first degree criminal contempt.

According to the charges, the two victims, a bother and sister, were brought to the United States from their native Korea around January 2010 and stayed with Park and Lee. After arriving, the female child had her passport confiscated and was forced to work for at least 10 hours every day after school, providing Park with foot massages, manicures and pedicures and doing housework, the charges state.

The female victim was reportedly forced to sleep on the floor in a small closes, while the male victim was forced to sleep on the floor. The children were also allegedly physically assaulted and sexually touched for the purpose of degrading and abusing them.

Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown also stated that Park and Lee forced the children to work outside jobs and turn over all their wages because their parents in Korea were allegedly not sending any money. In reality, the parents had sent over $100,000, all of which was taken by Park and Lee.

“The allegations in this case are extremely disturbing and even more upsetting considering the young ages of the alleged victims,” Brown said. “According to the charges, the defendants cut off all contact between the two young victims and their parents in Korea, held them hostage in their home by seizing their passports, forced them to do household chores well into the night and to work outside of the home and turn over all their earnings. In return, the victims were allegedly given space to sleep on the floor without a mattress. In the older child’s case, the space allegedly was in a closet.”

The incident first came to light when the children reported the abuse to school officials.

If convicted, both individuals face up to 15 years in prison.


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