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Former U.S. diplomat liable in slavery, sex trafficking case

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former U.S. diplomat who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen was found liable for the second time Monday for enslaving and sexually trafficking a woman who worked as a housekeeper.

The Washington Post reported a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, agreed that Linda Howard and late husband Russell Howard forced an Ethiopian maid into sexual slavery in 2008. Linda Howard, who left the State Department in 2013, was ordered to pay $3 million in damages to the woman, who lives in Virginia. Howard's husband died in 2012.

Linda Howard denied the allegations and argued the woman couldn't sue for civil damages under a human trafficking law that didn't pass until 2008. According to a court document, the woman began working for the Howards in 2007. She alleged she was raped twice daily by Russell Howard and that Linda Howard also joined in the sexual abuse.

Five years ago the couple was found liable in the same court for trafficking another Ethiopian housekeeper in 2008. They were ordered to pay her $3.3 million. However, the couple had already fled from Arlington, Virginia, to Australia. They contested the judgment there, settling in 2015.

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