An Oklahoma man who allegedly abducted his 11-year-old stepdaughter from her school and held her captive for nearly 20 years — during which time she bore 9 of his children — was indicted on federal and state charges.
Court papers filed Wednesday show a federal grand jury has indicted Henri Michelle Piette on charges of kidnapping and traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity with a juvenile, PEOPLE reports.
The 63-year-old faces four additional counts in Wagoner, Oklahoma: two counts of lewd molestation and one count each of first-degree rape of a juvenile under 14 and child abuse by injury.
He has pleaded not guilty to those four felony charges and remains in the Wagoner County Jail without bond, the court official says. It's unclear if Piette has appeared in court on the federal indictment (kidnapping and traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity with a juvenile) or if he has entered a plea to those two charges. If convicted, he faces possible life in prison.
It's likely that Piette could go to trial within six months, and it's possible he will be prosecuted simultaneously at the state and federal level, Brian J. Kuester, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, told PEOPLE.
Earlier this year, Piette’s former stepdaughter, Rosalynn McGinnis, went public with her story in which she recalled meeting Piette when she was a girl — and the alleged abuse that followed.
According to the federal charges filed against him, Piette first allegedly sexually assaulted McGinnis in Wagoner County in 1995 or 1996, when she was 11 or 12.
Then, when she was 12, McGinnis said Piette took her from her Oklahoma school and kept her against her will for 19 years. She said he beat, raped and tortured her while she was captive.
McGinnis was able to flee the remote Mexican village she was being held in with eight of her nine children she had with Piette. Her eldest child, a son, ran away before her escape; they have since been reunited.
The FBI began an investigation in search of Piette upon McGinnis' return, and On Sept. 7, according to the federal complaint, there was a development in the case. An FBI special agent was notified that Piette, who had resided in Central America and Mexico for a lengthy period of time, “visited the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City attempting to obtain a U.S. Passport.”
Piette was arrested in Dallas on Oct. 6.
Piette spoke to local media in Oklahoma denouncing the charges against him. “Most of it are lies,” he told TV station FOX23.
“They’ve been manipulated and they’re lying,” Piette told a TV reporter about his children.
About the accusations that he was sexually abusive, he said, “I never raped any children. I made love to my wife. We were married.”
McGinnis says otherwise.
“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” she told PEOPLE.
“‘Relief’ is such a small word in comparison to how I feel about the capture of Henri Piette. However, it is the closest I am able to come to describing my overall demeanor at this time,” she said.0comments
“Knowing that the man who physically took 22 years from me, leaving me with a lifetime of painful challenges, has been captured makes today one of the most pivotal times of my life.”
“My children and I suffer daily as a result of this predator’s abuse,” McGinnis continued. “Now, we look forward to continuing our newfound life of freedom and moving forward, having a lifetime of happiness and success.”