Two adults authorities have described as ringleaders in the abuse of an autistic woman by her relatives in Amite pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday.
Terry and Raylaine Knope will be sentenced Aug. 22 on charges relating to their roles in holding the young woman captive in a backyard cage, forcing her to work in their home and subjecting her to physical and psychological abuse from 2015 to 2016, according to court records.
The victim had been living with the Knopes, who are relatives, following the death of her mother in August 2015, according to court filings.
Federal authorities allege that the Knopes, along with their three adult children, conspired to subject the autistic relative to horrific abuse — including forcing he to eat her mother's ashes, beating her and attempting to traffic her for sex.
Raylaine Knope ordered the adult children to abuse the autistic woman, and Terry Knope is described as perpetrating some of the more brutal abuses, according to charging documents. The abuse included holding the woman underwater in a bathtub and burning her with a lighter.
The physical and psychological abuse of an autistic woman held captive for a year in Tangipahoa Parish included forcing her to eat both dog fe…
The pair is still facing state charges in Tangipahoa Parish, but the federal court documents indicate those charges are expected to result in plea deals with recommendations that each serves less than 33 years in prison, served concurrent with any federal prison time.
Court records indicate Terry Knope, 45, pleaded guilty to a forced labor conspiracy, interference with federal housing rights, hate crimes and misprision of a felony.
Raylaine Knope, 42, has pleaded guilty to a forced labor conspiracy, forced labor and misprision of a felony, records show.
Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys for Raylaine and Terry Knope will ask the judge impose a sentence not less than 28 years for each, which is the maximum allowable under the statutes, according to plea agreements for Terry and Raylaine Knope.
The federal case is filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Bridget Lambert, 22, and Jody Lambert, 24, the children of Raylaine Knope, have also pleaded guilty to federal charges but have not been sentenced, according to court records.
Federal charges are still pending against Taylor Knope, 21, the daughter of Terry Knope. She has pleaded not guilty.
All three children have pleaded no contest to state charges in 21st District Court but have not been sentenced, according to court records.
AMITE — A 20-year-old woman held in jail for two years on an accusation that she took part in the abuse of an autistic relative was herself ab…