[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#646: FBI joins search for Pines man in sexual assault (fwd)


Published Sunday, October 3, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
 FBI joins search for Pines man in sexual assault
 Haitian community outraged at girl's alleged treatment  BY BRAD BENNETT

 The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the search for Willy
Pompee Jr., 20, the Pembroke Pines man accused of sexually abusing a
12-year-old Haitian girl who worked for his parents in exchange for room
and board. Haitian community leaders outraged over the treatment of the
girl -- and worried about the possibility of other young Haitians in
abusive situations -- will have a news conference Monday in Miami to
call for people with knowledge of other possible victims to come
forward. ``It's first and foremost to again share with the community our
outrage that this is happening,'' said Leonie Hermantin, executive
director of the Haitian American Foundation. ``We want to encourage
people not to be passive about it.'' Police Saturday continued to look
for Pompee Jr., with the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI announcing
the investigation had broadened to include Willy Pompee Sr., and his
wife, Marie, who possibly violated federal law by transporting the girl
 from Haiti to the United States three years ago to serve as a maid for
the couple and their four children. ``Involuntary servitude is a federal
violation,'' said Terry Nelson, a spokesman for the FBI. The Pompees
live in the SilverLakes community called Sunset Pointe. They bought the
4,000-square-foot house in 1997 for $351,000. Willy Pompee Sr., whose
son allegedly abused the girl, is thought to be a clothing manufacturer
who regularly travels between Miami and Haiti. Several neighbors said
they did not realize the 12-year-old girl was not a relative.
 ``You would think they were all brothers and sisters,'' said one
neighbor, who asked that his name not be used. Children in the
neighborhood say the girl had a long list of chores that kept her
 from playing with them. When kids came to play with the Pompees'
children, the 12-year-old would ask them to move to another room so she
could clean the area, said Andrew Solomon, 13.  ``Her [mom] never let
her go outside,'' 10-year-old Ryan Solomon said, referring to
 Marie Pompee. Adults in the neighborhood were caught off guard by the
news. They remember the family as a tight-knit group. They could be seen
washing cars and walking through the neighborhood together.
 ``They seemed friendly,'' said Natalie Ferguson, 27. ``It didn't seem
like anything was wrong.'' The girl is now in the custody of the state
Department of Children and Families. Haitian leaders say the girl's
treatment sounds like what is known in Haiti as a ``restavec,'' an
impoverished child taken in by a wealthier family as an indentured
 servant in exchange for food, clothing and sometimes an education.
 On Monday, Hermantin will join other Haitian leaders to protest the
importation of the practice to the United States at an 11 a.m. news
conference at the Haitian Women of Miami office at 8340 NE Second Ave.,
Suite 212, in Miami. ``We want to let people in that situation come
forward because obviously the problem is bigger,'' Hermantin said,
pointing out that there may be other, unreported cases of child slavery
in South Florida. ``We know that it's happening, but you're always
shocked when there's actual proof that it exists.''