Former Tennis Pro Sentenced To Prison For Abusing Kids He Kept As SlavesFormer African tennis pro Jean-Claude Toviave was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for slavery. The Michigan resident fraudulently brought four children from Togo, Africa in 2006 and claimed they were his biological children. Instead of playing the role of a doting father, he was a slave-master. The children were forced to work in his house and suffered from beatings and starvation.

The victims, who now range in age from early teens to young adults, told stories of getting beat with plungers, broomsticks and electrical cords. They were forced to vacuum, iron, cook, clean and shine shoes for almost five years in the Ypsilanti home.

“The physical torture, beating me and starving me, you inflicted was so painful that I prayed at night that God would either help me to be free or allow your assaults to kill me,” wrote the unnamed victim. “The pain is something I will never forget. In the midst of your verbal and physical assaults, you worked the four of us to death.”

One victim currently suffers from permanent damage to his vision and chronic headaches from the brutality he experienced at the hands of Toviave. Even though he had to endure the constant abuse, he’s still a model student and is involved in several sports, is president of the student council and wants to go to medical school.

The “Lord has healed my heart enough to find something good while enduring the physical, mental and emotional abuse you dealt,” the boy, known only as “A.K.,” wrote in his victim impact statement, which was read in court.

During the sentencing, Toviave did not express any signs of remorse. The judge noted that he couldn’t get a good read on him. In addition to the jail sentence, Toviave was ordered to pay two of the victims $60,000 and provide $7,200 apiece to two victims for counseling. Seeing that Toviave is penniless, it’s unlikely they’ll see any of this money.

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  • Wong Chia Chi

    This is ridiculous. I hope those kids are able to recover from their ordeal.

  • Dalili

    Great! Although I think the punishment was lenient, I’m glad they held him accountable! Seems as though the children/young adults are doing well. I wish them continued success and the grace to overcome the abuse they endured.

  • This happens more often than we think, slavery is alive and well.

  • au napptural

    These circumstances are tragic at anytime, but I’m always especially saddened to see black people abusing our own. And I think in this case these were his own countrymen. My heart bleeds for these victims. This monster deserves everything he has coming.

  • P

    This article has made me weak. I have been drained completely of energy. You hear about different bad situations, and then you learned about one that is worse. Those poor children. Prison doesn’t seem befitting for this monster. He’ll have it too good with food, water, and heat. Rightly so, he doesn’t show any signs of remorse. smh