A Taiwanese victim of alleged human trafficking, whose story was revealed in a CNN program last month, could face a lawsuit filed by her former foster family in the US, the family’s lawyer said on Friday.
The Bartons accuse the woman known by the pseudonym “Isabel” of a breach of agreement and defamation, and plan to take the case to court after they have gathered sufficient evidence, Los Angeles-based lawyer Daniel Deng (鄧洪) said.
Isabel, identified as Ho Hsiao-feng (何曉鳳), was reported to have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Bartons in 2008, which stipulated that both sides would not talk publicly about her life with the family.
The Bartons were quoted by Deng as complaining that they had been unable to continue with their jewelry business since Isabel’s case was seized upon by the Taiwanese media.
They also suggest that Isabel could be being manipulated, perhaps by business rivals, and so have decided to take legal action, Deng said. In addition to filing a lawsuit, the Bartons are also considering asking for compensation because of the mental stress members of the family have been subjected to since the case became public, Deng added.
According to The CNN Freedom Report, Isabel came from an impoverished family. At the age of seven, she was sold by her father to a woman in Taipei. The woman moved to California in 2000 to live with her daughter, who had married an American surnamed Barton, according to copies of documents released by the California Supreme Court.
During the years she spent with the Bartons, Isabel alleges she was subjected to domestic servitude and physical abuse.
At the end of the CNN program, Isabel, who is believed to be in her 30s, expressed the hope that she might see her mother again.
The report generated a huge response in Taiwan, with a family in Taitung County identifying Isabel as their long-lost kin.
Taiwan’s representative office in Los Angeles is handling Isabel’s application for a new passport and the process is expected to be completed soon, head of the office, Kung Chung-chen (龔中誠), said on Friday.