A Woodbury nanny from China was starved, paid a pittance and beaten relentlessly until a police officer found her wandering bruised and afraid in the middle of the night, according to charges filed Friday in Washington County.
The 58-year-old woman worked for Lili Huang, of the 9700 block of Wellington Lane, who was charged with five felonies including labor trafficking, false imprisonment and assault.
Huang, 35, made her initial court appearance Friday in District Court in Stillwater. She remains jailed in lieu of $350,000 bail with conditions that include an ankle monitor.
The nanny told a police detective that she finally fled the house when Huang threatened to kill her with a knife.
She “was emotional and appeared in extreme fear of the defendant,” the detective observed during the interview.
An examination at United Hospital in St. Paul showed that the nanny, who is not named in the complaint, had numerous broken bones.
She had cellphone photos of cuts, scrapes and bruises to her body, head and face.
When officers found the nanny wandering in the street, she had blackened eyes.
Police from four cities and agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security searched Huang’s home and arrested her there, the complaint said.
A bag hidden under the nanny’s mattress contained a large amount of her hair, which the defendant allegedly ripped from the nanny’s head. The nanny had been hiding it, the complaint said, so Huang wouldn’t find it “and force her to eat it.”
A telephone message was left with Huang’s attorney Friday night seeking his reaction to the allegations.
According to the charges:
The victim told police she had worked for a wealthy family in Shanghai as a nanny for their minor daughter. She said the defendant treated her well in China, and asked her to provide nanny services for the Woodbury family.
After she arrived in the U.S. on a visa in late March, the nanny was forced to work as many as 18 hours a day doing child care, cooking and cleaning, for which she was paid $890 a month. Police calculated her salary was about $1.80 an hour, but she evidently didn’t receive any of it.
Soon after her arrival, Huang begin assaulting the nanny “on a regular basis,” sometimes in the presence of children. When the nanny asked Huang’s husband to help her buy an airline ticket, he took her passport and told her “she was not going anywhere,” the complaint said.
The assaults continued, and she became fearful for her life because she didn’t speak English and wasn’t allowed to leave the residence.
On July 4, Huang grabbed the nanny by the hair and slammed her head into tables and other objects, the complaint said. The defendant also allegedly punched and kicked the nanny while she was on the floor.
She was rationed crackers for meals and her weight dropped to 88 pounds, the complaint said.
When Huang threatened the nanny with a knife in the kitchen, Huang’s father stopped the assault and the nanny fled the house. She later told police she was searching for the airport so she could go home to China, the complaint said.