A San Diego area couple, Rim and Tarik Alahmad, are defendants in a lawsuit brought forth by an Indonesian woman who claimed she was enslaved for 13 years in the United States. The suit was filed January 13 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, federal court.
Members of the Harrisburg family who allegedly enslaved her have already been tried, found guilty, and sentenced by the federal government for transporting and harboring illegal aliens.
The plaintiff in the civil suit is Peddu Pattaiso, who cannot read or write the Indonesian or English languages. She was recruited in Indonesia to come work in the United States under a visa which was not applicable for the work she did, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg.
Pattaiso was sold to several families, who had her doing domestic work, paying far lower than the minimum wage, charges the suit. In early 2010, her Harrisburg captors allegedly sold her services to the Alahmads for $8000. Pattaiso received none of that money, she claims.
At the Alahmad home, Pattaiso says she was confined to a small shed at the rear of the house. For 16 months, she worked as a domestic servant and child caretaker. She was paid $1000 a month and worked seven days a week with no breaks or time off, she says in the suit.
Pattaiso says she was subjected to verbal abuse and threatened with physical abuse. On May 19, 2011, Pattaiso escaped from the Alahmad home and contacted authorities — later working with the Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which investigates human trafficking. This led to the indictments of the Harrisburg family that had brought her to the U.S.
On September 19 of last year, Pattaiso secured a proper visa that recognizes her as a victim of human trafficking and renders her a lawful temporary resident of the United States.