Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman treated as 'virtual slave,' B.C. court told

  • Print

VANCOUVER -- Leticia Sarmiento was a modern-day slave, working 16 hours a day, seven days a week as a nanny for a wealthy family in British Columbia, says the Crown, urging a judge to hand down a sentence for her former employer that will deter others from trafficking vulnerable women.

Franco Yiu Kwan Orr was found guilty in June of human trafficking for bringing Sarmiento with his family to Canada, where she earned $500 a month to care for his three children.

"He kept her as a virtual slave in his home," Crown lawyer Peter La Prairie told the B.C. Supreme Court judge on Wednesday. "It was a crime of greed and it was a crime of control."

In 2007, Sarmiento, 40, began working for the family in Hong Kong, where, she told the court, conditions were very different.

A mother of three herself, Sarmiento testified she was told by the couple before coming to Canada she would continue to have two days off a week and regular working hours. She said they told her she could become a permanent resident of the country after two years, and her children could join her here.

Orr brought Sarmiento to Canada in September 2008 on a visitor's visa that expired after six months.

Living in Metro Vancouver, she said she was not allowed to socialize with other people, worked seven days a week, had her passport taken away and had to share a room with the couple's youngest daughter.

In June 2010, after 22 months, Sarmiento called 911 and police took her to a women's shelter.

In a victim impact statement read in court by La Prairie, Sarmiento said she wanted a better life but has now lost trust in people. "I'm a good mother, a good daughter. I never do bad things. I help people and I expect the same back," La Prairie read aloud.

She said she believed her children would join her in Canada.

"I have not seen my children since 2007 when I left the Philippines and went to Hong Kong," the statement said. "In 2010 I stopped having income to send home, so my kids stopped going to school."

Her youngest daughter accused her of not being able to even recognize her in photos, she said, and the media attention has caused her embarrassment and made it difficult to find another job.

La Prairie said Orr used deception to get Sarmiento into the country, subjected her to degrading and humiliating conditions once here, and did so for his own profit -- all aggravating factors for sentencing.

The maximum sentence for human trafficking in Canada is life in prison.

Defence lawyer Nicholas Preovolos has yet to address the judge but has said he will seek a conditional sentence.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

The Whiteboard - Jets' 5-on-3 penalty kill

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

Ads by Google