A Louisiana woman with autism was held in a cage and forced to eat her mother’s ashes, in addition to a host of other alleged instances of sexual, physical, psychological and financial abuse at the hands of her relatives who were supposed to care for her.
As KMBC-TV reports, the alleged abuse took place between 2015 and 2016. The alleged abusers have all been indicted on federal charges, and those indictments were only recently unsealed.
The autistic woman had been living under the care of her mother. However, in August 2015, the victim’s mother died, and the victim, whose name has not been revealed, was placed into the care of a relative, Raylaine Knope.
Warning: the remainder of this article contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.
Knope was named the woman’s representative payee for her Social Security benefits. However, rather than manage the recipient’s money and care for her, Knope allegedly abused the woman and invited other relatives, identified as Terry Knope, Jody Lambert, Bridget Lambert, and Taylor Knope to participate in the abuse as well.
At first, the woman, now 22, was allowed to sleep on a mattress in the floor of Knope’s trailer. However, Knope later allegedly made the woman sleep in a tent outside, the zipper locked with a padlock so she couldn’t escape. The woman did try to escape, so Raylaine allegedly directed her relatives to first lock in her a padlocked shed, and then allegedly built a cage for her to sleep in. Raylaine allegedly threatened to kill the woman if she tried to escape again.
The family also allegedly made their autistic relative do menial chores, such as scrubbing the trailer floor with a toothbrush or cutting the grass with scissors. If she didn’t complete her chores or didn’t complete them fast enough, Raylaine Knope would allegedly withhold food.
In addition to the financial and physical abuse and neglect, the family allegedly sexually abused the young woman as well, allegedly forcing her to make “sexual advances” to visitors, such as a repairman, and to friends of the family. What’s more, they allegedly made her use methamphetamine and painkillers, and told her they would turn her into the police for being a drug user if she didn’t obey.
It is not clear how or why the alleged abuse came to the attention of federal authorities. Further, as of this writing, it is not clear where the disabled young woman is now living.
Excluding Bridget Knope, all of the alleged conspirators in this case face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Bridget Knope faces five years in prison for her role in the alleged abuse.