A Woodbury resident beat, starved and forced a servant she brought from China to work for up to 18 hours a day for almost no pay, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Washington County District Court.
The complaint charged Lili Huang, 35, with five different felonies including labor trafficking, false imprisonment, second- and third-degree assault and unlawfully taking another person’s passport.
The 58-year-old woman was held in a state of “slavery or indentured servitude” at a house on the 9700 block of Wellington Lane in Woodbury, according to Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.
“She was held in pretty appalling conditions, in appalling discipline,” Orput said.
The criminal complaint said the woman was found with two black eyes and numerous injuries to her face, wandering in the middle of a street near the intersection of Radio Drive and Bailey Road in Woodbury just after midnight on Thursday morning.
Using a Chinese language interpreter, police learned from the woman that she had been hired as a nanny by Huang’s wealthy family in China, and that she was brought to the United States in February to do the same job here, the complaint said.
The complaint said the family agreed to deposit $890 a month into the woman’s bank account in China, but while she was in Minnesota, she was forced to work up to 18 hours a day doing child care, cooking and cleaning. That meant she was working for less than $2 an hour, according to the complaint.
The complaint said the woman was never allowed to leave the house, which online real estate records show was purchased in 2015 for $500,000.
Huang also began beating the woman, grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head into tables and other objects and punching her and kicking her in the rib cage, the complaint said.
At one point, Huang beat the woman to the point where she could not stand up, the complaint said. The woman was then forced to walk about the house on her hands and knees “like a dog for about four hours,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said that the woman had suffered a fractured sternum and ribs, and she appeared to be extremely thin.
The woman told police she weighed about 120 pounds when she arrived in the United States, but at one point she weighed only 88 pounds because Huang gave her little to eat, the complaint said.
The complaint said she saved clumps of hair that were ripped out of her head during the assaults and put them in a bag under a mattress so Huang “would not find the hair and force her to eat it.”
The complaint said Huang took the woman’s passport when she said she wanted to return home.
Although the woman didn’t speak English and did not know anyone in the United States, she finally fled the house on Wednesday night after Huang brandished a knife and threatened to kill her after she accidentally spilled food, the complaint said.
When police searched Huang’s house, they found a bag with a large amount of human hair stuffed under a mattress, the complaint said. The woman’s passport was found in Huang’s purse, according to the complaint.
Huang was held Friday in lieu of $1 million bail, or $350,000 bail with the condition that she surrender her passport, undergo GPS monitoring and have no contact with the woman.