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Filipina nanny testifies at human trafficking trial

06/05/2013 03:44 EDT | Updated 08/05/2013 05:12 EDT
A Filipina nanny testified in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday she wouldn’t have come to Canada if she had known what the working conditions here would be like.

Franco Orr and his wife Nicole Huen are on trial for human trafficking charges arising from allegations they brought Leticia Sarmiento to Canada illegally and forced her to work in domestic servitude for several years.

On Wednesday, Sarmiento testified working conditions were much better when she worked for the couple in Hong Kong — she had two cellular phones, didn’t have to cover her own expenses and often took the children on outings alone.

But Sarmiento claims once the family moved to Canada, she was only allowed to call the Philippines once a month, had to pay for her own toiletries and was never allowed to take the children out on her own.

She testified Huen told her, “I am your master. I am paying you. You are to obey whatever I tell you.”

Sarmiento says Orr forced her to wash dishes by hand because the dishwasher was too expensive to use, and the couple forbade her from talking to other nannies while on family outings.

Sarmiento has looked after other peoples' children for most of her adult life, including in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Hong Kong.

Last week, she told the court she was tricked into coming to B.C. with the young family on the promise she'd work for two years before becoming a permanent resident.

- More from the first week of the trial

Sarmiento, who has three children of her own in the Philippines, alleges she was forced to work two years straight with no days off, no overtime pay and no access to her passport.

The couple has pleaded not guilty, but if they are convicted they could face a maximum fine of $1 million, life in prison, or both.

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