Pineville Man Charged with Forced Labor and Transporting a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity

ALEXANDRIA, La. – A multiple-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Alexandria charging Darnell Fulton, 36, with forced labor, conspiracy, and transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, announced David C. Joseph, United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and FBI’s New Orleans Field Office Special Agent in Charge Bryan A. Vorndran.

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 by causing the victims to believe that if they did not perform the labor and services, they would suffer serious physical harm.

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 the minors in interstate commerce with the intent that they engage in criminal sexual activity.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Fulton faces a sentence of up to life in prison, as well as mandatory restitution.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alexandria Resident Agency, with assistance from the Alexandria Police Department. The case 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.

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