Grand jury indicts 3 in Ohio slave labor case

4th suspect charged ahead of likely plea deal


ASHLAND, Ohio — Three people accused of enslaving a mentally disabled woman and her daughter beat the woman, denied her food, sexually assaulted her, threatened her with dogs and snakes, and hit her badly enough to require a hospital visit for pain medicine, which they took from her, according to an indictment announced Tuesday.

The federal charges also allege the three forced the woman and child to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions in a house in Ashland, 80 miles northeast of Columbus, restricted their access to a bathroom, punished them if they soiled themselves, and forced the woman to eat dog food and crawl on the floor wearing a dog collar.

The three held the woman “in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude” from August, 2010, through October, 2012, the indictment said.

The defendants dominated and controlled the woman and her daughter by “a combination of violence, threats, humiliation, sexual assault, deprivation, and monitoring,” the indictment said.

Jodie Callahan, Jessica Hunt, and Dezerah Silsby were indicted on five counts including forced labor, acquiring a controlled substance by deception, and theft of government benefits related to allegations they forced the woman to use her public assistance money to buy them groceries.

The indictment said Mr. Callahan forced the woman to engage in sexual acts with him and threatened that he and Ms. Hunt would kill her if she told anyone.

Mr. Callahan’s attorney declined to comment, saying he hadn’t seen the indictment. Messages were left for attorneys representing Ms. Hunt and Ms. Silsby.

A fourth suspect, Daniel Brown, was charged in a criminal information of the sort that typically precedes a plea deal. With the others, he is accused of punching the woman in the face, slamming her hand in a door, kicking her in the hip, and smashing her hand with a rock, forcing her to seek treatment and receive pain medications, which the four confiscated, according to the indictment and Mr. Brown’s criminal information.

Mr. Callahan’s mother, Becky Callahan, has said the allegations against the defendants are “all lies.” She said the woman was friends with her son and Ms. Hunt, her son’s girlfriend, and they tried to help her by offering her a place to live.