Pineville Man Charged with Forced Labor and Transporting a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity
Darnell Fulton, 36, was charged today in a multiple count indictment with charges including forced labor, conspiracy, and transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, announced Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and David C. Joseph, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
The defendant was arrested and taken into federal custody on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, and made his initial appearance in court on July 29, 2020. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 31, 2020.
According to the allegations set forth in the indictment, the defendant forced three victims, who were his step-children, to provide labor and services in his business by means of force and threats of force to the victims and by means of a scheme, plan, and pattern intended to cause the victims to believe that if they did not perform the labor and services, that they and others would suffer serious harm.
According to the indictment, the defendant conspired to do so with others and the conspiracy included forcing the victims to bake and sell brownies to sustain the family. As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges that the defendant subjected the victims to physical violence, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, withholding of food, degradation, intimidation, and psychological manipulation in order to obtain uncompensated labor and services from the victims. As the conspiracy progressed, the defendant took the victims out of school, water-boarded them, and set daily sale quotas. In addition, the indictment alleges that at three times between June 2016 and May 17, 2019, the defendant transported, and conspired to transport, a minor, under the age of 18, in interstate commerce, with the intent that the minor engage in criminal sexual activity.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a sentence of up to life in prison, as well as mandatory restitution.
The case is being investigated by the Alexandria office of the FBI, with assistance from the Alexandria Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker for the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Maryam Zhuravitsky for the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.