Ohio man sentenced to 30 yrs for keeping mentally disabled woman as a sex slave locking her and her daughter, 5, in a SNAKE PIT
A northeast Ohio man who kept a mentally disabled woman and her daughter, 5, in ‘modern day slavery’ and forced them to live in a snake pit for years has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
For nearly two years, 27-year-old Jordie Callahan and his girlfriend Jessica Hunt, 32, kept Shannon Eckley and her daughter locked up in their squalid Ashland, Ohio, apartment, where they controlled every aspect of their lives, federal prosecutors say. To keep them in line, Callahan threatened to unleash their terrifying menagerie of pets on them – including a poisonous coral snake, a Burmese python that weighed 130 pounds, lizards, spiders, scorpions and ‘numerous’ dogs – including pit bulls, authorities say.
Callahan and Hunt were convicted in March of forced labor, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and conspiracy to illegally obtain prescription drugs. The couple were accused of forcing the woman to shop, cook and clean up after their pit bulls. They also threatened to harm her young daughter if the woman didn’t obey. The woman and her child were forced to live in a dark, damp basement without a bathroom and the woman was forced to commit sex acts, prosecutors said.
The couple held the woman from early 2011 to late 2012 in their home in Ashland, about 70 miles southwest of Cleveland, prosecutors said. She escaped the home by getting arrested for shoplifting a candy bar and telling police she wanted to go to jail because people had been mean to her.
Federal prosecutors had urged Judge Benita Pearson to sentence Callahan, 27, to life in prison. His girlfriend, 31-year-old Jessica Hunt, is scheduled to be sentenced in Youngstown on Thursday. Attorneys for Callahan and Hunt argued at trial that authorities had sensationalized the woman’s living conditions and said she was always free to come and go. In an argument for a new trial, the attorneys said the woman frequently visited a convenience store, attended appointments with social service agencies and even had home visits with social workers at Callahan and Hunt’s home in Ashland.
Two other people were indicted in the case. One suspect, Dezerah Silsby, was accused of luring the woman into Callahan’s and Hunt’s house with ice cream. She agreed to testify against the couple as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced to 45 months in prison in April. Her boyfriend, Daniel Brown, who was accused of helping to enslave the woman, also agreed to testify and received a five-year sentence in March.
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