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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida woman could face 20 years in prison after admitting that she paid about $3,000 to have a Mexican woman smuggled across the border to be a pregnancy surrogate, WJAX reports.
Esthela Clark, 47, of Jacksonville, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to a charge of forced labor. She was originally arrested in 2015 after a concerned citizen notified authorities.
A criminal complaint obtained by WJAX said Clark kept the 22-year-old woman captive at an apartment for about two years. Investigators said Clark physically abused and tried to artificially inseminate the woman with semen from her boyfriend’s used condoms with a household syringe.
The victim told investigators Clark would sometimes inject her three to four times a day, according to court documents obtained by People. When she didn’t become pregnant, Clark decided it was because the victim was overweight and began giving her only beans to eat, causing her to lose 65 pounds, according to the documents.
After nine months, Clark gave up on impregnating her and forced the victim to clean her home and work at various businesses, investigators said.
A member of Jacksonville’s Celebration Church saw the victim washing cars in very cold weather with insufficient clothing and called authorities, leading to Clark’s arrest, according to WKMG.
Clark was also indicted for human trafficking after the victim said Clark forced her to have sex with multiple men, but that charge was dropped as part of the plea deal, WJAX reports.
Clark faces a maximum of 20 years in a federal prison. As of Tuesday afternoon, a sentencing date had not been set.