NORMAN, Okla. - Federal investigators are looking into whether the owners of a Norman bed and breakfast forced a woman to work against her will – and even give up her baby.
It wasn’t until another employee’s case with the Department of Labor that the allegations came to light.
The woman is from Cambodia and came to work for the bed and breakfast two years ago.
Since that time, she reportedly worked 14-15 hour days, even while she was pregnant, and hasn’t made a dime.
Just off Highway 9 in Norman, the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast looks peaceful and serene.
But, for one woman who spent her days and nights there, it seemed to be much more like a nightmare.
The Department of Labor said the Cambodian woman, known as Srey, should have made $80,000 for all the housekeeping work she’s done.
But, a former employee told investigators she never saw the owners pay Srey.
“It’s difficult to tell how this person actually came in,” said immigration law attorney Doug Stump.
Stump said something doesn’t add up.
The owners, Rany and Terry Kchaos, sponsored Srey’s immigration petition but made her pay them $8,000, telling her “it would take her three years for her to pay off the note.”
But, Srey was also told she won a lottery to come to the U.S.
“If it was the diversity Visa program as alleged in the affidavit, there’s no need for continued employment by the foreign national,” Stump said.
That’s why the Department of Labor called the FBI.
Agents raided Whispering Pines and seized cell phones, financial records and Srey’s immigration, employment and adoption documents.
The former employee told investigators Srey had a baby girl in May 2015 and was very upset when the owners made her give up her daughter for adoption.
Court records show Srey was not allowed to leave the grounds there unless she was with the owners.
These are all things federal prosecutors will take a look at as they decide whether to build a case for human trafficking.
“I think, in this particular case, if they can show this person was brought in through duress or false promises and was forced to work 60 hours a week for less than minimum wage, I think it’s going to fall to that level,” Stump said.
We’re told Srey is in a safe home while the investigation continues.
The owners have not been charged with a crime at this point.
They were not on the property when our crews were there Tuesday.