The San Francisco District Attorney's Office on Tuesday announced charges against married SF residents Jose Aguila and Lorraine Lim following a year-long investigation into the alleged labor trafficking of a childcare worker.
According to details released by the DA's Office, Aguila and Lim found and hired the victim, identified only as Nicel R., in June 2019. Nicel was reportedly told she would only be caring for their disabled child for three months, and was initially paid $240 per month for her services. But the couple reportedly then conscripted Nicel into being their full-time indentured servant for the next two and a half years, foring her to sleep in an unheated storage room packed with boxes, paying her only $40 per months, and confiscating her passport.
Aguila and Lim also reportedly kept the nanny from learning English, and confiscated her cellphone so she was unable to reach friends or family, in addition to forcing her to work at all hours and stay in the house the majority of the time. It was only on a tip from a neighbor that the San Francisco Police Department discovered the inhumane conditions and alleged labor violations involved.
“Domestic workers play an important role in our economy and like all workers should be paid fairly and protected from exploitation,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in a statement. “Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking due to their isolation within their employers’ homes. Our office stands with the victim and will do everything in our power to hold Jose Aguila and Lorraine Lim accountable and send a message that this conduct will not be tolerated.”
Aguila and Lim are both being charged with eight counts: one count of felony conspiracy to commit human labor trafficking, one count of felony human labor trafficking, three counts of felony unemployment insurance code violations, and three counts of misdemeanor labor code violations.
They were both taken into custody in the last week, and both posted bail to the tune of $100,000. Both will face pre-trial monitoring by the SF Sheriff's Department, and a protective order keeps them from coming within 100 yards of the victim. It's unclear, though, where the victim has been living since the SFPD Special Victims Unit and Homeland Security rescued Nicel R. on November 29, 2021, or if she has returned to the Philippines.
Anyone with information connected to suspected labor trafficking is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department Tip Line at 415-575-4444, or you may text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.