Henri Michelle Piette kidnapped Rosalynn McGinnis from her hometown of Poteau, Oklahoma, when she was 12 years old, or possibly 11 years old, according to a companion NBC News report. At the time, Piette was in a relationship with McGinnis’ mother. Shortly afterwards, he “took her to a van” and “married” her, according to prosecutors.
Over the next 20 years, Piette inflicted unspeakable sexual abuse on the young girl, repeatedly raping her. Three years after her kidnapping, at the age of 15, she gave birth to her first child that Piette fathered; she would go on have eight more of his children.
During her captivity, Piette would frequently change his appearance and use various aliases, which he also forced McGinnis to do. Then, when she turned 18, Piette forced her to go to a local police station — at the time, they were in Arizona — and tell police that she had run away from home. He apparently believed that if McGinnis, now an adult, had presented herself and given police a lie, she would be removed from the National Missing Persons Registry.
“He parked three blocks down the road from the Phoenix Police Department and he had three of my children. He told me what to tell them. He said that if I didn’t come back within two hours, I would never see my children again,” she said.
The beginning of the end of McGinnis’ captivity came when the pair was hiding out in Oaxaca, Mexico. At the time, they were attempting to pay for groceries when another couple noticed that they didn’t have enough money. The couple, “Lisa and Ian,” eventually befriended the couple.
One night, after Piette passed out from drinking, McGinnis escaped to the couple’s home, with eight of her nine children — her oldest child had already escaped. With the help of the U.S. Embassy and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, McGinnis was reunited with her family and Piette was taken into custody.
In June, he was found guilty of various charges, and this week he was sentenced. Specifically, he was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping conviction and 30 years for traveling with intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile.
“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,” said the prosecutor.