A Yemeni woman who was promised a job cleaning a home in the U.S. embassy compound in Tokyo was enslaved and raped by a U.S. diplomat's husband.
A Virginia federal judge awarded the victim $3.3 million in compensation for the abuse the woman suffered. The 12-page decision does not name the woman who was kept in involuntary servitude for three months in 2009. A State Department employee, Linda Howard, had enticed the Yemeni woman to move to Japan with the promise of a job cleaning a home in the U.S. embassy compound in Tokyo for $200 a month. In December 2008 the woman agreed after she had been offered a raise to $300 dollars a month and one day off every week.When she arrived on the job the victim ended up being raped and also had to work more than 80 hours per week. The U.S. District Judge Liam O-Grady was quoted in Courthouse News as saying:According to the victim Linda Russell told her that the two had hired previous domestic workers whom her husband had also raped and even formed a threesome. Any worker who refused was fired on the spot.The worker also claimed that was denied the right to practice her religion. Everything she did was closely monitored, even phone calls. She was not allowed to leave the house alone. She was threatened with deportation if she did not comply with requests.After the victim managed to escape from the home in March 2009 the Howards searched frantically for her. The wife even flew to Ethiopia to question the woman's husband to see if he knew where she was and tried to file false charges against her with the Ethiopian police.However the victim reported her abuse to the State Department who removed Linda Russell from her post and launched an investigation. The couple was charged with human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, conspiracy, obstructing law enforcement, and unjust enrichment. According to this website:
“At trial, plaintiff testified that Russell Howard raped her at least four times, and that he forced her to perform oral sex approximately ten times, and that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her...Plaintiff testified that Linda Howard was complicit in her husband’s sexual abuse, telling [the domestic worker] that she should gratify Russell Howard and make Russell happy.”
According to Linda Howard’s profile on the professional-networking website LinkedIn, she is currently an IT manager with the State Department in Washington, D.C. The profile notes that Howard worked as a manager for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2008 to 2009. Before that, Howard worked for three years at the Embassy in Yemen, according to the profile.