Hawaii couple charged on suspicion of trafficking teenage girl, using her as servant
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Palolo couple has been charged on suspicion of labor trafficking. Police say the two allegedly held a teenage girl captive in their home and forced her to work as a servant.
Investigators report she was also repeatedly beaten.
The couple was identified as Kevin and Pomerrine Robert. The victim is a 15-year-old girl.
The two were charged Friday with felony labor trafficking and face up to 20 years in prison. They are both being held on $250,000 bail.
Sources say the couple recently helped the girl and her mother move to Hawaii.
The victims were flown in from Guam some time last year, HNN has learned. And sources say the suspects allegedly took their passports immediately after picking them up from the airport.
Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said neighbors likely never knew what was happening inside this apartment in the middle of Palolo Homes.
“There are many things happening in plain sight that people aren’t necessarily noticing,” she said.
Investigators report the victim told them she suffered terrible beatings while being forced to watch a child and do the household chores.
She said she was kept out of school when she had visible bruises.
Police were called this week after the girl told a school counselor.
“I’m so grateful that the girl was brave enough to finally talk about it and ask for help,” Kreidman said. “And I’m so grateful that the teacher was responsive, acted quickly and helped to bring in community agencies to intervene.”
The girl told police that in the latest beating Kevin Robert allegedly held her down while Pomerrine Robert hit her with a metal curtain rod.
Sources say she was then locked in a room for five days with only water, chips and a plastic bucket for a toilet.
The girl allegedly told an officer the couple had also abused her mother and that her mother was afraid to go to police. It’s unclear whether she could be charged for failing to report her daughter’s abuse.
“If mom was being victimized in the same way daughter was being victimized there’s no way she could have spoken up and as a community it’s our responsibility to protect mom not blame her,” Kreidman said.
The victim and her mother are not related to the suspects, sources say.
Meanwhile, management at Palolo Homes says it’s investigating the circumstances of the couple’s arrest. In a statement, the management said, “If this family has breached any of the terms of our lease agreement, we will be following up with appropriate actions.”
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