Members of a Louisiana family are being charged for allegedly forcing one of their autistic relatives to live in a cage, advertising her for sex and making her strip and do outrageous tasks around the house, People magazine reported.
Federal prosecutors have charged five members of the family for their role in the alleged mistreatment of the 22-year-old autistic woman, according to a statement by the Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Raylaine Knope, 42, Terry J. Knope, II, 45 (pictured above), Jody Lambert, 23, and Taylor Knope, 20, were all charged with one count of conspiring to obtain forced labor, the statement said. Raylaine and her husband Terry are both being charged with an additional charge of attempted sex trafficking.
Terry is also being charged with one count of committing a hate crime for allegedly shooting the autistic woman with a BB gun and one count of theft of government funds for stealing the victim’s disability benefits, according to the statement.
Raylaine’s daughter, Bridget Lambert, 21, was also charged with conspiring to obtain forced labor.
Pictured above from top-right to bottom-left: Jody Lambert, Bridget Lambert, Taylor Knope, Raylaine Knope.
The federal charges come after the five were charged by local authorities after a search warrant turned up evidence of a woman being forced to live in a cage that resembled a dog kennel, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported.
Police found the woman’s belongings in the cage along with a five-gallon bucket that the woman was forced to use as a bathroom, the Times-Picayune reported. The woman appeared malnourished and was covered in bug bites.
The victim was a relative of Raylaine and moved into the defendant’s home in August of 2015, according to the federal indictment first obtained by People. Since 2015, the defendants are alleged to have forced the victim to do house and yard work, threatening her with violence and confinement if she did not comply, according to the indictment.
The autistic woman was initially forced to sleep outside in a tent and shed, but eventually was confined to a cage. The victim had to do the yard and housework in exchange for food and water, prosecutors allege.
In addition to forced labor, the defendants are accused of verbally and physically abusing the victim, and in more than one occasion, throwing feces and urine on her.
“The family forced [the victim] to eat dog feces placed on bread,” the indictment says. “[Jody Lambert and Raylaine Knope] forced [the victim] to stimulate sexual acts with a jalapeño pepper.”
They also forced the victim to make sexual advances on male visitors and are alleged to have advertised the victim for sex online. The indictment outlines pages of allegations against the defendants and their harassment of their autistic relative.
Neighbors of the Louisiana residence said that they had no idea a woman was living in a cage just feet from their property, according to the Time-Picayune.
"I'm so disgusted," Rocky Stewart, the family’s neighbor and first and second cousin, told the Times-Picayune. "It's just horrible. I hate to say they are my relatives."
The family members were arrested in June 2016 and charged by local authorities. The federal indictment was filed on July 26, 2018.
All five are still being held in Tangipahoa Parish Jail and the trial for their local charges is expected to begin in August.
[Photo: Tangipahoa Parish Jail]