A federal jury found a man accused of kidnapping a girl and fathering her nine children guilty.
Henri Michelle Piette, 63, was found guilty by a federal jury of kidnapping and travel with intent to engage in sexual act with a juvenile. The verdict was reached Thursday following a seven-day trial. Piette was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2017.
“The victim endured two decades of horrific abuse by the defendant. Her courage lead 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.”
Evidence presented at trial showed Piette had kidnapped the victim in 1997 from Poteau where she had been living with her mother, who had been in a relationship with Piette. Over the course of the nearly 20 years that followed, Piette repeatedly raped and inflicted 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.
During the trial, witnesses testified Piette had moved with the victim and children dozens of times within the United States and Mexico. He used numerous aliases and forced the victim to use aliases and dye her hair black and wear glasses to change her appearance. He controlled the victim by violence, threats of violence, and sexual abuse against her and her children.
Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Snow and Sarah McAmis represented the United States. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office for Oklahoma’s 27th Prosecutorial District.
“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. 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,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven D’Antuono, FBI Oklahoma City Division.
Ronald A. White, district judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, presided over the trial.
Sentencing will be scheduled following the completion of a presentence report.
—Submitted by U.S. Attorney's Office