New York woman accused of holding children as slaves for 6 years

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FLUSHING, N.Y. - A New York woman is charged with horrific crimes after authorities accused her of enslaving two children.

According to a criminal complaint, the brother and sister, who were just 9 and 11-years-old, were brought to New York from Korea.

At that point, the children were placed with 42-year-old Sook Yeong Park.

Prosecutors say Park confiscated the children's passports and moved them into a home in Queens.

From the outside, neighbors say they had no idea there was anything amiss at the home.

"Honestly, you'd just think it was a cultural thing," one neighbor told WPIX. "You'd see the kids, but there was no indication (of abuse)... we didn't even know that it wasn't their mother."

The neighbor says she often saw the children raking leaves outside the home or doing other chores.

However, investigators say the children were expected to do more than just the common household chores.

According to WPIX, officials claim the children were forced to meticulously clean the house. The girl would often go to school and then be expected to work 10 hours after being released from class. During that time, she was also expected to give Park lengthy massages, manicures and pedicures, according to the complaint.

Authorities say Park would often pull the children out of school for days or even a month at a time while forcing them to work on her home. The complaint alleges that Park made the children work at a grocery store for $10 an hour and pocketed all the earnings.

WPIX reports that when Park was angry, she would allegedly beat the children. Investigators say Park would hit them with objects, slap them, kick them and stomp on their legs.

The alleged abuse went unnoticed for six years.

On Jan. 4, Park repeatedly kicked the girl's leg until it swelled up, then cut off her hair and kicked her in the head, according to the complaint.

A couple of days later, an assistant principal at the girl's school noticed the bruises and asked her what happened.

School officials said they noticed how the girl missed classes regularly and was often so tired she fell asleep in class.

After learning about the alleged abuse, the assistant principal drove to Park's house to demand their passports before heading to the grocery store to collect the money owed to the children.

At that point, school officials called police and Park was arrested.

"According to the charges, the defendant cut off all contact between the two young victims and their parents in Korea," said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The children were able to call their parents in South Korea last week, which was the first time they had spoken to them in three years.

Park was arrested on charges of labor trafficking, third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

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