MUSKOGEE, Okla. – An Oklahoma man accused of kidnapping his stepdaughter and holding her captive for 19 years was convicted by a federal jury last week.
According to KFSM, Henri Michele Piette, 63, was found guilty on June 6 of kidnapping and travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile.
“The victim endured two decades of horrific abuse by the defendant. Her courage led her to escape and rescue her children and allowed investigators and prosecutors to seek justice on her behalf. Ultimately her courage ended the defendant’s reign of terror,” said U.S. attorney Brian J. Kuester. “I know this verdict cannot heal the countless wounds inflicted by the defendant. It should prevent him from ever inflicting more.”
In August 2016, Rosalynn Michelle McGinnis, 33, told the FBI that she met Piette when she was around 10 years old.
By the time she was 11, she said Piette had starting raping her at their home in Wagoner, Oklahoma.
During that time, McGinnis said Piette allegedly forced her to marry him.
She told authorities that when she was 11, Piette took her to a van to marry her, having his oldest son, who was 15 at the time, perform the ceremony.
Piette’s son confirmed to investigators that his father had asked him to perform the ceremony. He said the “ceremony” consisted of him asking if Piette and McGinnis took each other in marriage.
McGinnis said that her mother tried to flee from Piette after he allegedly beat her.
The woman said that her mother took her and her brothers to live with their grandmother in Missouri.
However, Piette was able to track them down and brought them back to Oklahoma, where they lived in a tent near Gore, Oklahoma.
McGinnis said her mother attempted to get away from Piette another time and took her and her siblings to a local women’s shelter in Poteau.
When McGinnis was 12, Piette reportedly picked her up from school and held her against her will for the next 19 years.
During that time, Piette, McGinnis, and Piette’s other three children, moved around throughout Oklahoma and Mexico.
She said she was beaten and repeatedly sexually assaulted multiple times a day almost every day while she was with Piette.
In June 2016, McGinnis said she was finally able to escape from Piette while in Mexico.
She told PEOPLE that she took her eight of her nine children she had with Piette to the U.S. Embassy and obtained passports so they could enter the United States.
Once she made it to the United States, she immediately started meeting with federal officials and provided them with statements on what happened.
Federal officials interviewed Piette’s older children who confirmed they had witnessed him sexually abuse McGinnis.
Authorities were finally able to track Piette down in September 2017 when he visited the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City attempted to obtain a U.S. Passport and he was arrested.
“‘Relief’ is such a small word in comparison to how I feel about the capture of Henri Piette. However, it is the closest I am able to come to describing my overall demeanor at this time,” McGinnis told POEPLE. “Knowing that the man who physically took 22 years from me, leaving me with a lifetime of painful challenges, has been captured makes today one of the most pivotal times of my life.”
According to court documents, officials believe Piette “has deep ties to criminal organizations in Mexico.”
Authorities believe Piette was threatening people who helped McGinnis escape.
“The FBI Oklahoma City Division, and the special agents who investigated this crime, hope that the guilty verdict delivered against Henri Piette will bring some sense of closure to those he inflicted immeasurable mental and physical abuse upon for over 20 years,” said Steven D’Antuono, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division. “By bringing Mr. Piette to justice, the victims of his heinous acts can now begin the process of healing. The FBI is honored to have been a part of this long-term investigation alongside our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.”
“My children and I suffer daily as a result of this predator’s abuse,” McGinnis told PEOPLE in 2017.“Now, we look forward to continuing our newfound life of freedom and moving forward, having a lifetime of happiness and success.”
Piette faces up to life in prison. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.