TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Disturbing new details were released Friday about a case so horrific it brought the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff to tears. Deputies say an autistic victim was locked in a cage and forced to perform sex acts.
"They threatened her life if she were to leave, and they would actually lock her in this particular area," Sheriff Daniel Edwards said.
Arrested are Raylaine Knope, 40; Terry Knope, 43; Taylor Knope, 18; Bridget Lambert, 19; and Jody Lambert, 21.
The sheriff described the cage-like structure that the 22-year-old woman was forced to live in as a 6-by-8 homemade dog kennel with no electricity or running water. There was a bucket that was used as a toilet, as well as a small bowl of food.
"To live in these conditions anywhere in the world is unacceptable. In the United States of America, is unimaginable," said Edwards.
After getting a tip, deputies said they found the victim in the backyard of a home on Rushing Lane in Amite. She was covered in insect bites and was so malnourished it appeared she had lost about 60 lbs. Sheriff Edwards said she has the functional capacity of a child.
Now, five people face charges of human trafficking and cruelty to the infirm. They're accused of conspiring to prostitute the victim.
"There is evidence that they made her perform sexual advancements toward other persons and perform sexual acts on other persons, and they also had planned to bring her to another specific location for the purpose of her performing sexual acts on large groups of people in exchange for them, the captors, being paid money," Edwards said.
The sheriff said the victim may have been forced to live in the cage since October of last year. He adds she is now being cared for and he hopes she's on the road to recovery.
"The degree of trauma that someone like this goes through is probably indescribable and something I can't imagine, so, I would certainly ask that we all, you keep her in our thoughts and prayers," said Edwards.
Four children were also removed from the home and placed in the state's custody. The sheriff said the victim was known to the suspects.