A couple who prosecutors say kept a 12-year-old relative as a sex slave and a forced laborer have been sentenced to 20 or more years in prison.
Inez Martinez Garcia, 43, and Marcial Garcia Hernandez, 45, of California both pleaded guilty to their crimes on Monday following emotional testimony by their victim who hopes that after 12 years she can finally move on.
'I was a young girl, and the things Inez and Marcial did to me have marked me for life. They took away my childhood,' the woman only identified as Isabel wrote in a statement read by prosecutor David Uyar, UT San Diego reports.
'Today I can go out and be a mother, a wife, and I can sleep knowing that justice has been done,' the now 24-year-old said.
Following the reading the couple both pleaded guilty to felony charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and lewd act on a child.
Hernandez was sentenced to 23 years to life and Martinez Garcia 20 years behind bars.
Prosecutors said that in mid 2001 the couple helped smuggle the then-12-year-old girl into the U.S. from Mexico.
They promised her family there that she'd have a better life. Instead, they forced her to work as their maid and nanny and forced her to have sex with Hernandez and others.
In addition to her work at home she was also sent to work in a restaurant with those wages taken by the couple.
When she didn't do as instructed, they beat and burned her, and forced her to eat chili peppers and spoiled food.
This abusive behavior ran the course of approximately 18 months, prosecutors said.
It finally ended for her when she called 911 over a particularly hard beating by Martinez Garcia. Authorities consequently sent her back to her family in Mexico.
Seven years later, now as an adult, the victim returned to the U.S. in recent years but she began having flashbacks to the horrors she experienced.
At the recommendation of friends she called police, capping a two-and-a-half-year investigation into the couple by the sheriff's department last December.
The couple face deportation back to Mexico where they have green cards from after serving out their sentencing.