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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 31, 2019

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Violating Civil Rights of Woman with Disabilities

Terry Knope, age 46, was sentenced to 336 months imprisonment today in the Eastern District of Louisiana for conspiring with other members of his family to obtain forced, unpaid household labor and services from D.P., an adult woman with cognitive disabilities, for assaulting D.P. and violating her federal Fair Housing Act rights because of her disabilities, and for helping others manufacture methamphetamine on his property.

“The revolting, disgusting, and depraved criminal acts of the defendant and his co-conspirators have no place in our nation or in any civilized place,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband.  “This case should serve as a warning:  human traffickers will be brought to justice and punished severely.  The Department of Justice will continue to fight and prosecute all forms of human trafficking, and the Department’s Civil Rights Division will continue to seek justice for the most vulnerable in our society.”

“Today’s sentence concludes the prosecution of one most appalling acts of depravity this District has seen in recent memory. Terry Knope along with co-conspirators, Bridget Lambert and Raylaine Knope, participated in truly horrific crimes against one of the most susceptible members of our society. I hope that the conclusion of this case will bring a measure of justice and finality to the victim,” said Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser. “Our office, along with the Department of Justice, state and local investigative agencies are committed to seeking justice on behalf of all victims including vulnerable individuals such as D.P.”

“The sentence handed down today to Terry Knope is most fitting for his appalling actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Bryan A. Vorndran of FBI New Orleans. “The conditions and torment the victim endured were simply unfathomable; no human deserves such treatment.  Protecting the civil rights of all persons within the United States remains a cornerstone of the FBI’s mission.”

On May 20, Knope pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor conspiracy, one count of violating D.P.’s federal Fair Housing Act rights, one count of a Hate Crime, and one count of misprision of a felony. At his plea hearing, Knope admitted that, between Aug. 13, 2015, and June 30, 2016, in Amite, Louisiana, he conspired with other family members to obtain D.P.’s uncompensated household labor and services through a number of means, including by force, threats of force, and physical restraint. Knope admitted that he forced D.P. to live in a locked backyard cage and to perform housework and yard work in exchange for food and water. He further admitted that he and his co-conspirators subjected D.P. to routine physical abuse, threats, and verbal and psychological abuse designed to ensure D.P.’s continued compliance with the family’s orders. As examples of this abuse, the defendant admitted that he once intentionally burned D.P. with a cigarette lighter while another family member held D.P. in place so she could not escape. Knope further admitted that, because of D.P.’s disability, he forced D.P. to live in the locked backyard cage and shot her with a B.B. gun at close range, and that he also helped others produce methamphetamine on his property.   

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Field Office in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Tangipahoa Parish District Attorney’s Office. The case has been prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Assistant United States Attorney Julia Evans of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and by the Tangipahoa Parish District Attorney’s Office.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
19-1180
Updated October 31, 2019