Slavery is alive and well and happening in upstate New York, if the story of Annie George (pictured) and Valsamma Mathai is to be believed. Mathai, who worked for George in her 30,000 square foot Rexford, New York, mansion for 6-1/2 years, says she was forced to work 12-hour days and was not allowed to leave. George, she claims, kept her passport and visa, and forced her to sleep in the walk-in closet of a room inhabited by some of George’s five children.
And you’ll never guess who ratted George out…
Valsamma’s son, Shibu Mathai visited his mother and was concerned about her living and working conditions, so he contacted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Mathai was able to record several conversations with George in which she admitted that Valsamma Mathai’s employment could be considered a crime. George also allegedly told Mathai to tell investigators that his mother “was a relative staying at Llenroc mansion as a guest.” That recording was used to file a criminal complaint against George in March 2012.
According to the United Nations, there are around 2.5 million people currently bonded in forced labor (including sexual slavery.) And according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, there were more than 2,500 incidents of human trafficking investigated in the U.S. between January 2008 and June 2010.
For her part, George is claiming she never forced Mathai to do anything. “Whatever she did, she did on her own,” said George. “There were no assignments. I never gave her a list. I treated her like family.” She also claimed that her husband actually ran the household and that she lived in fear of him.
If convicted, George faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.