Woman Held Captive for 19 Years Speaks out About Captor

After her captor of nearly 20 years was reportedly arrested and captured himself, Rosalynn McGinnis described Thursday as "one of the most pivotal times of my life."

McGinnis, 33, was abducted from her Oklahoma school at 12 years old by her former stepfather, now 62-year-old Henri Piette. During the 19 years he kept her against her will, he beat, raped and tortured her.

She managed to escape from the village in Mexico where she had been held in June 2016, sneaking eight of the nine children she had with Piette out with her. Her eldest son had run away prior to her escape, but they have since been reunited.

"My future seems bright — a lot brighter," McGinnis told PEOPLE following her return to the States. "Life still is hard, but it's not near as hard as it ever was with him."

Up Next: 'Glee' Actor Mark Salling Pleads Guilty, Faces up to 7 Years in Prison for Heinous Crime

Once McGinnis returned to the U.S., the FBI launched an investigation to locate Piette.

On Sept. 7, the FBI was notified that Piette "visited the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City attempting to obtain a U.S. passport," PEOPLE reports, citing the federal complaint. He was allegedly looking to obtain a passport in order to cash United States Army Pension checks. It also notes that he has "deep ties" to criminal organizations in Mexico.

With this lead, an arrest warrant was issued against Piette for fleeing prosecution.

Piette was reportedly taken into custody in Mexico Thursday and has been charged in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, with two counts of lewd molestation and one count each of first-degree rape and child abuse by injury, The Oklahoman reports.

McGinnis says the year she spent in the U.S. before Piette was caught left her living in constant fear, but now she can begin to experience a "newfound life of freedom."

"'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," McGinnis told PEOPLE this week. "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."


McGinnis is now living in the Midwest with her children, ages 2 to 17. She said they're being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder to cope with the abuse they sustained for years.

"My children and I suffer daily as a result of this predator's abuse," she said. "Now, we look forward to continuing our newfound life of freedom and moving forward, having a lifetime of happiness and success."