For five years, former pro tennis player Jean-Claude Toviave slid under the radar as he abused and starved four children he had brought over from his home country of Togo, Africa. Toviave was sentenced on Monday for an assortment of crimes relating to the abuse, as well as his and the children’s illegal immigration.
According to statements, Toviave acquired fake immigration papers for him and the kids back in 2006 when he brought them to Ypsilanti, Mich., and presented them as his own until January 2011. The four kids — a few of whom were only middle schoolers at the time — were forced to cook and clean while also being severely beaten by Toviave.
"I prayed at night that God would either help me to be free or allow your assaults to kill me," one boy, now in high school, wrote in a victim impact statement that was read during the hearings. "The pain is something I will never forget. In the midst of your verbal and physical assaults, you worked the four of us to death.”
Toviave, now 44, will serve 11 years in prison for the four counts of forced labor. He had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and misuse of visas, mail fraud, and harboring aliens.
Some of the kids were enrolled in school, and despite the continued abuse at home, have been able to excel.
One of the boys who wrote and impact statement, known only as A.K., claims to suffer from reoccurring headaches and permanent vision damage after Toviave repeatedly kicked and punched him in the face.
The "Lord has healed my heart enough to find something good while enduring the physical, mental and emotional abuse you dealt," A.K. wrote.
Disturbingly, Toviave did not express any remorse for his crimes when he has a chance to speak in court. Instead, he recounted a trip he took in 2007 to visit his sick mother.
Toviave was ordered also to pay each of the victims $60,000 and an extra $7,200 to two of the victims for counseling, which the victims will never likely see since Toviave is now broke, according to the defense lawyer Randall Roberts.