Home » world and Bride trafficking » Sister-in-law gets 2 years in Ramapo bride trafficking-assault convictions
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Sister-in-law gets 2 years in Ramapo bride trafficking-assault convictions
|Parveen and Aman Jagota walk into Rockland County Courthouse Jan. 30, 2012 to stand trial for forced servitude and sexual abuse of a 22- year-old daughter-in-law on. / Ricky Flores/The Journal News|
A Rockland County judge sentenced a Ramapo woman to two years in state prison, faulting her in the labor trafficking and assault of her Indian sister-in-law who testified she was brutalized by her husband and his family when she came to the United States following an arranged marriage.
Rajani Jagota, 31, was given a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years in prison for two counts of labor trafficking, and two years for a felony assault conviction. Judge William Nelson, in New City, ruled the sentences would run concurrently. A Parole Board will decide the exact length of the sentence.
Nelson fined Rajani Jagota $375 and ordered her to stay away from the victim under an order of protection until June 2023.
Her mother, Parveen Jagota, 58, was given the same sentence Wednesday morning for two labor trafficking convictions, and between one to three years for felony assault. But Nelson agreed he would review her sentence and rule on July 24 after her attorney raised questions about the felony assault portion of the sentence.
Parveen and Rajani Jagota are the mother-in-law and sister-in-law respectively of the victim who came to the United States in 2008 following her marriage to Vishal Jagota, which was arranged by her relatives in the United States and India. The victim’s identity has not been disclosed by The Journal News because her father-in-law was accused of sexually abusing her. He was found not guilty of the charges.
The victim’s husband was sentenced in May to three years' probation and 220 hours of community service for third-degree assault, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of a year in jail.
“She was selected as a servant, not as a bride,” Nelson told the defendants who were seated in court along with a group of supporters from the Indian community. “It was his mission to find a young Indian woman from India, not one raised in the United States, ... For three years, (the victim) lived a life of involuntary servitude, waiting hand and foot for you and your family.”
In five days of testimony in February, the dark-haired petite victim told Nelson that she came to the United States expecting to live a happy married life, but instead her in-laws forced her to perform backbreaking work, and beat her if it wasn't to their satisfaction.
She also said her movements were restricted and that her mother-in-law burned her with an iron on the instruction of her sister-in-law, and her husband bit her on her face as part of a pattern of punishment.
Prosecutor Arthur Ferraro said Rajani Jagota showed no remorse to a probation officer and exhibited a confrontational attitude in the first of her two meetings. The victim’s aunt said in an affidavit that Rajani Jagota confronted her at a supermarket after the conviction and made disparaging remarks.
Rajani Jagota sobbed as court officers escorted her out of the courtroom. Her 4-year-old son waited outside with her brother during the sentencing.
She will be held in county jail until the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision decides which prison she will be sent to.
The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has said the case is the first time in New York state that a 2007 labor trafficking statute, commonly understood to deal with illegal immigrants being forced to work in inhuman conditions, is being used within the context of a household. The victim lived with her husband and his family in a multigenerational home on Butternut Drive in Ramapo.
“The state prison sentence is appropriate,” said prosecutor Arthur Ferraro. “This is going to send a message that you just can’t do this.”
A dozen Indian supporters gathered outside Nelson’s courtroom after the sentencing, commiserating with the Jagota family. The oldest Jagota son, Vikas, who wept before the sentencing, collapsed as soon as he left the courtroom.
Several friends of the Jagotas family complained bitterly about the conviction and the sentence, saying that the family was upright, honest, hardworking and with the highest moral standards. They alleged that the victim lied to the court about the Jagotas, and that she only agreed to the arranged marriage because she wanted permanent residence in the United States.
Those allegations were made by the defense during the trial and vigorously denied by the prosecution. In fact, prosecutors said, the victim arrived in the United States with permanent residency, and had no incentive to lie.
Kulwant Singh, a friend of the Jagotas from West Nyack, said he was saddened by the tragedy that had befallen the family. Family disputes, like those between the Jagotas and their daughter-in-law, could have been resolved if they had found an intermediary to resolve their differences, he said.
“The family didn’t find the right middle man,” he said. “This tragedy could have been averted.” http://www.lohud.com
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