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Man gets life for kidnapping stepdaughter, holding her captive for 19 years

Henri Michelle Piette kidnapped his victim in 1997, when she was 12, and subjected her to nearly 20 years of physical and sexual abuse before she escaped.

An Oklahoma man convicted of kidnapping his stepdaughter as a child and holding her in captivity for nearly 20 years has been sentenced to life in prison, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Image: Henri Michelle Piette
Henri Michelle Piette in a sheriff's photo.Wagoner County Sheriff's Office / AP

A federal jury found Henri Michelle Piette guilty in June of kidnapping and traveling with intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile following a seven-day trial that detailed the horrific conditions Rosalynn McGinnis endured.

Piette repeatedly raped and abused her and fathered her nine children during the nearly two-decade ordeal, which began when Piette kidnapped her in 1997, when she was 12 years old.

McGinnis, now in her 30s, fled with eight of her nine children in early 2016 after befriending a couple she met at a grocery store in Mexico.

A judge on Feb. 20 sentenced Piette to life for the kidnapping conviction and 30 years for the conviction for traveling with intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma said in Tuesday's statement. It is a federal case, and the sentence is not eligible for parole.

Piette's sentence also included a fine of $50,000, as well as payment of $50,067 in restitution to his victim.

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Piette kidnapped the victim in 1997 from the Poteau, Oklahoma, home where she lived with her mother, prosecutors said. Her mother had been in a relationship with Piette.

Piette moved his victim and the children dozens of times within the United States and Mexico before she escaped, prosecutors said. Piette also used numerous aliases and forced his victim to do the same and to change her appearance.

U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester said in Tuesday's statement that life in prison is reserved for the most serious offenders — and that Piette certainly qualifies.

"For 20 years he inflicted extreme physical and emotional abuse on the victim and her children. For 20 years she feared for her and her children's lives," Kuester said. "The victim's courage ended the defendant's reign of terror. Unfortunately, the horrific memories may very well last a life time. It is fitting that the defendant's sentence will also."

McGinnis has spoken publicly about the case, and she testified at the trial. She told NBC affiliate KSHB of Kansas City, Missouri, in an interview at the time he was convicted that "I'm just so happy that he is put away where he can't hurt anyone anymore."

The station has reported that she and her family now live in the Kansas City area and are focused on moving on with their lives.