- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Two Cameroonians involved in a group that brought teen-age girls to Maryland promising them a U.S. education pleaded guilty yesterday to trapping one girl and treating her like a slave.

Vivian Satia and Etiondem Daniel Achamorfaw of Germantown appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor and induce aliens, and harboring aliens for financial gain relating to bringing a then-17-year-old girl from Cameroon to the United States.

The couple could each get 15 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 when they are sentenced May 4.

Achamorfaw, 39, and Satia, 37, brought the 17-year-old girl to the United States using a false passport under the name of "Doreen Satia," telling her she would get a good education and have a better life in this country.

But when she arrived, the girl was forced to clean the house and take care of the married couple's children without getting paid.

As part of their plea agreement dated Jan. 26 and approved by Judge Alexander Williams Jr., Achamorfaw and Satia must pay wages the girl would have earned between February 1995 and 2000. It was not clear yesterday exactly how much the girl, whose name is being withheld, would be paid. There also is a pending civil suit against Satia and Achamorfaw.

Two other Cameroonians involved, Kevin Waton Nanji and Vivian Satia's sister, Louisa Satia of Silver Spring, have pleaded not guilty to similar charges and to charges they falsified passports and committed marriage fraud in a case involving a then-14-year-old. Their case is scheduled to go to trial this spring.

The two girls escaped the houses in which they were trapped and sought help from Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Maryland, a child-rights group, the girls' attorneys said.

The 14-year-old girl, who came from Cameroon to this country in 1997, received the worst treatment, according to the indictment.

Mr. Nanji and Louisa Satia had smuggled her into the United States with the help of Achamorfaw and Satia, and told the girl she would get an education and be taken care of, according to court documents.

Upon arriving here, the 14-year-old girl was subject to constant beatings by Louisa Satia, documents show.

"Louisa Satia would physically assault the juvenile, including, but not limited to, hitting her, forcibly cutting her hair, and spraying cleaning liquid in her eyes," read the grand jury indictment.

In one instance, the girl was hit repeatedly by Louisa Satia "when she did not do the children's laundry as instructed."

Mr. Nanji also exposed himself and sexually assaulted the 14-year-old girl, the indictment states.

Mr. Nanji threatened the girl, telling her that "she would be sent back to Cameroon" if she said anything about her situation to law enforcement, according to the indictment.

The girl did not have a chance to get out of the house because she was kept locked inside, according to attorneys with CASA.

Three of the four had been arrested in a sting in late November; Achamorfaw turned himself in a few days later.

A federal grand jury handed down a six-count indictment in the case against the group in early December.

The indictment was a result of a joint investigation known as "Operation Atlantic Link" conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department.

"We have had other cases in this last year similar to [this case], and that's a new thing," said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. She noted that within the last year, her office has handled the cases of a group of teen-agers from Estonia and a Brazilian woman being smuggled in and forced to work without pay.

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