The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 20, 2013

Ohio woman, allegedly enslaved, spent time in jail

CLEVELAND — A mentally disabled mother authorities said was enslaved for two years along with her daughter spent time in jail this year after pleading guilty to beating the girl, but her attorney told a judge that her captors forced her to do it.

Court records show that a child endangering complaint was filed against the woman in October 2012 just a day after she was charged with shoplifting and asked to be jailed because three people had been mean to her.

A forced labor charge was unsealed Thursday against a fourth suspect, Dezerah Silsby, after Silbsy surrendered to authorities. It wasn't clear whether she had an attorney, and her case was not yet listed in online records late Wednesday.

Beginning in early 2011, the suspects forced the mother to cooperate with them by threats and physical abuse, federal prosecutors said. The woman told authorities she was forced to do housework by the suspects, who she said raided her bank account and menaced her with snakes and pit bulls.

The woman and her daughter were freed in October after police investigated an abuse allegation one of the suspects made against her.

Police checking into her "mean" claim went to an apartment after one of the suspects said it was the woman who was abusive. Authorities said the allegation was a ruse complete with a video staged by the suspects. They said the suspects had forced the woman to act as if she were mistreating her child.

The woman later pleaded guilty to child endangering and was sentenced to 150 days in jail in February. She served only part of that sentence.

Her attorney told a judge during sentencing that two of the suspects encouraged the woman to abuse the child and threatened to go to police if she didn't comply, the Ashland Times-Gazette reported last winter.

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