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San Francisco couple charged with labor trafficking foreign nanny

PIX Now -- Tuesday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Tuesday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 10:23

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco couple have been charged with several counts related to the working conditions of a nanny they brought to the United States from the Phillipines in 2019.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that Jose Aguila and Lorraine Lim, a married couple, have both been charged with eight counts -- one count of felony conspiracy to commit human labor trafficking, one count of felony human labor trafficking, three counts of felony unemployment insurance code violations and three counts of misdemeanor labor code violations.

The charges stem from an investigation into the working conditions of the suspects' nanny, who they brought to the States from the Philippines in June of 2019.

Investigators said the nanny was forced to work seven days a week, caring for the suspects' disabled child, in addition to other forced labor in and outside of the home.

The nanny told investigators the couple promised her that she would only have to be in the United States for three months, which turned into nearly two and a half years.

"Domestic workers play an important role in our economy and like all workers should be paid fairly and protected from exploitation," Jenkins said in a news release.  "Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking due to their isolation within their employers' homes."   

The suspects allegedly isolated the nanny, who does not speak English, and kept possession of her passport. She was also restricted from having friends or cell service.

Investigators said the couple paid the nanny $240 per month for the first several months and then only $40 per month. The suspects also required her to be available at all times, even in the middle of the night.

Prosecutors said Aguila and Lim did not provide other mandatory employee benefits such as payment for the substantial overtime hours she worked, meal and rest breaks, paid sick leave, workers' compensation insurance and proof of wages. 

Once a neighbor realized what was happening inside the home, she alerted the police. The SFPD Special Victims Unit rescued the nanny on November 29, 2021.

Aguila and Lim surrendered to authorities individually. Aguila on Thursday, November 30 and Lim on Sunday, December 4.  Each of the suspects posted bond on $100,000 bails set by the court. If convicted of all charges, they each face over 19 years in state prison.   

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