Woman sentenced for beating, starving nanny from China

Published 12:24 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

WOODBURY — A woman accused of beating and starving a woman she brought from China to work as a nanny in Minnesota will be deported after she spends a year in jail.

Lili Huang, 36, pleaded guilty to charges of forced labor and third-degree assault. She was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in jail. U.S. District Judge David S. Doty also ordered her to forfeit her home and pay nearly $100,000 in restitution. Huang lived in Woodbury, a suburb of St. Paul.

Authorities said the 58-year-old nanny was found wandering in the street in July 2016, battered and malnourished. She weighed less than 90 pounds, had several broken bones and bruises and on her face. She told police she fled Huang’s home after being threatened with a kitchen knife.

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The woman was treated well when she worked for Huang in China but the abuse began after they immigrated to Minnesota, court documents said. Investigators said she was forced to work up to 18 hours a day doing child care, cooking and cleaning, for less than $2 per hour, which is a fraction of the state’s minimum wage of $7.75 per hour.

The nanny asked Huang to buy her a plane ticket to return to China in April 2016, but Huang said she wasn’t allowed to leave and hid her passport.

Huang is a Chinese citizen living in the U.S. with a valid visa.

Ryan Pacyga, Huang’s attorney, said she was experiencing mental health problems at the time of the abuse.

“It’s extremely rare to have a federal labor trafficking case that ends in a sentence this short, frankly — so we’re happy about that,” Pacyga said.