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Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Ypsilanti man found guilty of enslaving, abusing 4 West African children

By Katrease Stafford

An Ypsilanti man was found guilty Tuesday of enslaving and abusing four West African children from Togo after sneaking them into the country, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Jean-Claude "Kodjo" Toviave is facing up to 20 years in prison following Tuesday's verdict on four counts of forced labor in a federal court in Detroit. Toviave is a former University of Michigan janitor and part-time tennis instructor, according to the Free Press.

Toviave, a native of Togo, brought the four children into the U.S. and gave them fake passports with false information, while claiming they were his own biological children, the story said.

To read the full story, click here.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

@Beth Mayhand: the God I pray to loves children, as he does all of us, and does NOT want them to be abused in any way. these children ARE innocent victims. how dare you imply otherwise!!


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Where's the picture of him?


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

With the Freep article cited.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

Detroit's got nothing on that place.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.

FINALLY, he will be put away!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

I wonder what will happen to them now? Hopefully they will end up here in a better living situation or returned to their parents if that is possible. He has changed their lives immensely. All in all, very sad. I remember years ago when a local farmer and his wife were accused of enslaving two developmentally disabled men. I don't remember what the punishment ended up being.

Jeff Renner

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

That, too, was a very sad story. Here is the NY Times article.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

"Human rights problems in the country (Togo) included: security force use of excessive force, including torture, which resulted in deaths and injuries; official impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; executive influence over the judiciary; infringement of citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; discrimination and violence against women; child abuse, including female genital mutilation (FGM), and sexual exploitation of children; regional and ethnic discrimination; trafficking in persons, especially women and children; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; official and societal discrimination against homosexual persons; societal discrimination against persons with HIV; and forced labor, including by children". 2010 Human Rights Report: Togo U.S. State Department


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

This guy had a house from Habitat for Humanity.......the level of depravity in wow....


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

What the @#$$ is going on in our community!!! I fell as if i have been saying, "yeah, but it could happen anywhere" too often lately


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Beth, Maybe you ought to worship a kinder, gentler god. The one you follow does not appear to be very nice.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

With all due respect to you and your religion Beth, I'm more of a evolution and science person.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

Matthew dates to the first century, not the beginning of time.

Beth Mayhand

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

What is going on is exactly what God has promised since the beginning of time. Man has ignored the truth for far too long. Please read Matthew 24 as it speaks of today, the beginning of sorrows. Revelation 11 and 16 speak of what is still to come. There are NO accidents in life and NO innocent victims. All things happen according to the will of God.

Linda Peck

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

The full article is shocking to read. I am asking just how diligent were the teachers who saw these children and their bruised and beaten bodies for five years before someone helped them. It is truly a shocking story and I hope this man is away a long long time for this.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 7:50 a.m.

Linda - "Many people are shocked to learn that slavery and human trafficking still exist in this country, but the victims are often hiding in plain sight," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "This conviction and the liberation of these victims occurred because of the diligence of school teachers, advocates, investigators and prosecutors" (Detroit Free Press 10/30/12)


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

I taught one of the children. Let me be clear: teachers did all they could to help these kids, including reports to police and department of human services and a hundred smaller gestures (food, clothing, help locating temporary shelter, connections to various social services, etc.). I am relieved for these young people that their tribulations are at an end, and I hope they will be able to move past this terrible experience.