Last year, a lawsuit alleging that a wealthy Upper East Side couple
kept a Chilean nanny as a “virtual slave” for three months made waves around the internet.
In it, Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica claimed she was physically abused by her employers’ three children, and accused the family of human trafficking.
The lawsuit was dismissed after “rampant inconsistencies” emerged during her deposition, many of which backtracked from her original allegations, though the family did pay her about $US6,000 in back wages, writes Michael Wilson in the New York Times.
Despite the court’s dismissal, the couple, Chilean aristocrats Malu Custer Edwards and Micky Hurley, and their three children, are stuck in Italy after the US refused to let them back into the country following a summer vacation.
The Times reports that the family’s August vacation was only supposed to last three weeks, but they were refused re-entry by the State Department because of Garnica’s now-dismissed allegations.
The family was reportedly alerted while on vacation that Edwards needed to renew her student visa to re-enter the US, but the request was denied by the United States Consulate, which stated that Edwards “had been untruthful on her application to renew the visa by failing to report having engaged in human trafficking,” according to The Times.
“‘Well, what’s so bad about Italy?'” Ms. Edwards asked, repeating a question she has heard from friends. “Well, just wait until you are anywhere in the world, and you think you’ll be there a couple of weeks, and then be told you can’t go back to where your life is.”
Garnica’s lawsuit against the Edwards and Hurley claimed that the socialites only gave her $US800 a month to work 12-hour days without any days off.
She also alleged Edwards and Hurley took her passport, kept her in the apartment without proper food or her medication for hypertension, and that she was abused by the couple’s three children.
The lawsuit was dropped by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Manhattan’s Federal Court after Garnica revealed in her deposition that she was allowed to come and go from the apartment at her leisure, was given food, and that the source of the physical abuse was the couple’s three-year-old toddler who was no taller than the nanny’s waist.
Edwards and Hurley are currently appealing the visa denial.
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