Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Man Sentenced in 1997 Kidnapping of 12-year-old Poteau Girl

Henri Michelle Piette, who had been found guilty by a federal jury on June 6, 2019, was sentenced on February 20, 2020 to life imprisonment for Kidnapping, and 360 months for Traveling With Intent to Engage in Sexual Acts With a Juvenile. His sentenced included a $50,000 fine and restitution to the victim in the amount of $50,067.00.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the defendant had kidnapped the victim, who was 12 at the time, from Poteau, Oklahoma in 1997 where she had been living with her mother, who had been in a relationship with the defendant. Over the course of the nearly 20 years that followed, the defendant repeatedly raped and inflicted additional physical and emotional abuse upon the victim. The victim gave birth to nine children, the first being born in 2000 when she was 15 years old. In July 2016 the victim was able to escape with her children to the United States Consular General Offices in Nogales, Mexico. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and the investigation began.

The investigation revealed, and the victim testified at trial, that the defendant had moved her and their children dozens of times within the United States and Mexico. The Defendant used numerous aliases and forced the victim to use aliases, dye her hair, and wear glasses to change her appearance. He controlled the victim by extreme violence, threats of violence, and sexual abuse against her and her children.

Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah McAmis and Edward Snow represented the United States during the trial. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the United States Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and the District Attorney’s Office for Oklahoma’s 27th Prosecutorial District.

“Life in prison is a sentence the law reserves for the most serious offenders – offenders like Henri Michelle Piette. For 20 years he inflicted extreme physical and emotional abuse on the victim and her children. For 20 years she feared for her and her children’s lives,” said United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester. “The victim’s courage ended the defendant’s reign of terror. Unfortunately, the horrific memories may very well last a life time. It is fitting that the defendant’s sentence will also.”

“For over 20 years Henri Piette inflicted immeasurable harm upon his victims. We hope today’s sentencing provides closure to the victims and an opportunity to heal," said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Oklahoma City Division. "The FBI would like to thank our law enforcement partners for their dedication and efforts on this investigation.

The Honorable Ronald A. White, District Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, presided over the sentencing hearing. The defendant will remain in custody pending transportation to the designated federal facility at which the nonparoleable sentence will be served.

KXMX Staff Writer

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