Prosecutors: Couple kept children as domestic servants, abused them
Sook Yeon Park and her husband Jeong Taek Lee allegedly pocketed more than $100,000 sent for the children's care by their parents in Korea.
A Queens couple indicted by a grand jury this week is accused of physically and sexually abusing two Korean immigrant children they kept as domestic servants, all while pocketing money meant for the children’s care, the Queens District Attorney said Tuesday.
Sook Yeon Park and her husband Jeong Taek Lee allegedly stole more than $100,000 from the children’s biological parents, and forced the girl, 11, and a boy, 8, to give them money they earned in forced outside employment.
“The allegations in this case are extremely disturbing and even more upsetting considering the young ages of the alleged victims,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.
“According to the charges, the defendants cut off all contact between the two young victims and their parents in Korea, held them hostage in their home by seizing their passports, forced them to do household chores well into the night and to work outside of the home and turn over all their earnings.
“In return, the victims were allegedly given space to sleep on the floor without a mattress. In the older child’s case, the space allegedly was in a closet.”
According to the statement, the young girl was forced to work in a variety of jobs -- including at grocery stories, a nail salon, a restaurant and as a babysitter -- and was forced to turn her earnings over to Park and Lee. She was also forced to provide foot and back massages, manicures and pedicures to Park, prosecutors said.
The young boy was also allegedly forced to work at a grocery store for at least one day a month and surrender his earnings.
The two children were allegedly told that they had to work to pay their expenses because their parents weren’t sending any money from Korea -- none of which was true, prosecutors said.
The statement also details other acts of brutality and abuse, which may be uncomfortable for some readers:
“In May 2015, for instance, Park allegedly broke a glass dish over the male victim’s legs and struck him in the back with a wooden slipper, causing substantial pain and requiring him to go to a local Queens hospital to be treated for bruising and lacerations,” the statement reads.
“In November 2015, Park allegedly scratched the female victim about the legs with a nail clipper, causing scratches and substantial pain, because the manicure and pedicure that the victim was giving her were not up to her standards.
"Two months later, on January 4, 2016, Park alleged became angry with the female victim and began kicking her on her leg, causing swelling and substantial pain, and the following day, Park became angry with her and cut off her hair and kicked her in the head, causing swelling and substantial pain.”
The couple was named in a 61-count indictment, including charges of second-degree grand larceny, labor trafficking, endangering the welfare of a child, second- and third-degree assault, forcible touching, petit larceny and first-degree criminal contempt.
If convicted, each faces up to 15 years in prison.