A married couple and their three adult children have been accused of inflicting several types of abuse upon one of their legally disabled relatives, a woman with autism and other diagnoses, who has lived with them for the past three years.
When the mother of a 22-year-old autistic woman passed away in August 2015, she moved into a trailer on the property of her family members who have a home that they share with their children. The woman reportedly slept on a bed inside of the trailer parked on the property.
On August 13, 2015, one day after the woman’s mother died, 45-year-old Terry Knope, the husband of her blood relation, 42-year-old Raylaine Knope, took over as the executor of the SSI benefits received due to her disability. He was awarded the responsibility in order to make sure that the near $9,000 a year was used to ensure that the woman’s housing and other basic needs were met.
Beginning in August, when the woman moved onto the property with her family, Terry and Raylaine Knope along with three of their grown children, Jody and Bridget Lambert, and Adam Knope, allegedly began verbally, psychologically, physically, and sexually abusing her.
Raylaine allegedly removed the victim from the trailer that was her home and housed her in a tent in the yard that was modified with a locking mechanism on the zipper, which she reportedly required the other family members to use at night to prevent escape. Over time, a locking fenced structure was constructed and the tent was placed inside of it with a bucket as a toilet.
The family members are additionally suspected of forcing the alleged victim to perform chores for compensation of food and water, though they received her government checks to pay for her expenses. According to official documents, the woman was forced to perform several of the tasks in unorthodox manners, such as cutting the grass with scissors, and also fed prescription pain medication and given methamphetamine without her consent.
The victim allegedly survived several other types of abuse such as being struck and injured through beatings with objects, being called demeaning names, being forced to undress and act in a sexual manner when people came to the house, and being threatened at gunpoint against fleeing or reporting the alleged abuse to the authorities.
In one instance, Raylaine is accused of making the alleged victim eat her mother’s remains that were dumped from the urn into a bowl and mixed with milk, which caused the woman to vomit after consumption.
At the beginning of summer in 2016, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call from a person who was concerned when they saw the victim inside of the cage. When the authorities responded they found the woman had bug bites all over her body and that she appeared to be undernourished. The Louisiana Department of Health’s Adult Protective Services took the woman from the home.
The FBI and local sheriff’s department opened an investigation and after a grand jury reviewed the findings on Thursday, five of the members of the family are facing several federal charges on suspicion of the abuse that is believed to have taken place at the residence.
Raylaine, Terry, and Taylor Knope, along with Jody Lambert, who lived at the residence full-time during the time period that the alleged abuse took place could be incarceration for life if they are convicted of the charges.
Bridget Lambert only visited the home sporadically and she has been charged with conspiring to obtain forced labor. She could spend five years behind bars if she is found guilty.
If you or someone you love is suspected of domestic violence, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.