Author sentenced to 11 years for sex slavery

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Joseph Yannai was convicted in 2011 for luring young foreign women to the United States in order to molest them.

Joseph Yannai, who was convicted two years ago of luring naive young foreign women to his home in Pound Ridge, N.Y., for his own sexual gratification, was sentenced Monday to 11 years in federal prison.

The sentence was well short of the 80-year maximum, though just below the minimum called for in federal guidelines. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman said that was in part due to Yannai’s failing health, though Korman called Yannai’s crimes “terrible.”

Five women who worked for Yannai from 2003 to 2009 testified that he molested them. Some of the victims testified that he subjected them to non-stop lewd behavior and threats.

“They were psychological prisoners, alone in a strange country with little money and no friends,” Korman said in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Yannai, 69, appeared in court in a wheelchair, clad in beige prison garb and sporting a white beard. He did not speak when given the opportunity to do so; his lawyer said he intended to appeal.

Prosecutors had asked Korman to sentence him to up to 30 years for his 2011 conviction of a variety of offenses, including coercion and enticement under the Mann Act, forced labor, fraud in labor contracting, unlawful employment of aliens, importation of aliens for immoral purposes, and inducement of an alien to illegally enter and reside in the United States.

Luring the women, often under the pretense that they would work as au pairs, “was his life’s work,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Spector said Monday.

But Yannai has hotly disputed the conviction. Any sexual contact between the women was consensual, he said.

“Do we warehouse Mr. Yannai for the rest of his life?” lawyer Neil Checkman said Monday. “Or do we decide … that we do not need to (keep) another man in jail for too long a time?”

Yannai will serve at least an additional eight years in prison, counting the nearly three years he has served.

Yannai, who wrote a reference guide, “The International Who’s Who of Cooks 2004-2005,” posed online as a woman who said her boss was looking for assistants.

Courtesy of USA Today

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