Argued: October 30, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Liam O'Grady,
District Judge. (1:16-cv-00562-LO-JFA)
Richard Francis Rinaldo, JONES, GREGG, CREEHAN & GERACE
LLP, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Appellant.
Melissa Lim Patterson, JONES DAY, Washington, D.C., for
Timothy J. Battle, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.
B. Marshall, Christian G. Vergonis, JONES DAY, Washington,
D.C., for Appellee.
WILKINSON, KING, and QUATTLEBAUM, Circuit Judges.
Linda Howard appeals from a judgment entered against her in
the Eastern District of Virginia after a jury found her
civilly liable to plaintiff Sarah Roe under the Trafficking
Victims Protection Act (the "TVPA"). Roe had sued
Howard for her role in sexual abuse that Roe suffered at the
hands of Russell Howard, Linda's husband, when Roe worked
in 2007 as the Howards' housekeeper in housing provided
by the Embassy of the United States in Yemen. The jury found
that Linda's conduct in Yemen contravened criminal
provisions of the TVPA and thus awarded Roe $3 million in
damages pursuant to the TVPA's civil remedy provision.
See 18 U.S.C. § 1595. On appeal, Linda
challenges the district court's denial of her post-trial
motion for judgment as a matter of law, wherein she sought
relief on the ground that, in 2007, the TVPA's civil
remedy provision did not apply extraterritorially. Linda also
challenges the court's admission of testimonial evidence
from another former housekeeper of Linda and Russell whom
they had similarly abused. As explained below, we are
satisfied to affirm the judgment.
31, 2017, following a four-day trial, a jury in the Eastern
District of Virginia found Linda Howard civilly liable for
contravening criminal provisions of the TVPA. More
specifically, the jury found that Linda had engaged in forced
labor in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1589, forced labor
trafficking in violation of § 1590, commercial sex
trafficking in violation of § 1591, and conspiring to
engage in those offenses in violation of § 1594.
See J.A. 115-17.
review an appeal following a jury verdict, we view the trial
evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party.
See Randall v. Prince George's Cty., 302 F.3d
188, 195 n.8 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Lowery v. Cir. City
Stores, Inc., 206 F.3d 431, 442-43 (4th Cir. 2000)). We
are likewise obliged to accord the prevailing party the
benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the
evidence. See Lowery, 206 F.3d at 443. The facts
recited herein are taken in that light and drawn from the
record, which includes evidence presented at trial and the
parties' joint submission of stipulated facts.
is an American citizen. She began working for the Department
of State in 1991 as a Communications Officer in Paris,
France. In Paris, Linda met and married Russell, an
Australian citizen who then worked for the Australian Embassy
in France. Over the next decade, Linda and Russell held
similar postings around the world, usually arranging their
assignments so that they could pursue their careers in the
same country. In 2001, Russell retired from his position with
the Australian government, and he thereafter followed Linda
as she continued her career with the State Department.
2005, the State Department assigned Linda to our Embassy in
Sana'a, Yemen. Russell accompanied Linda to Sana'a
and also found work at the Embassy. Among other jobs, Russell
performed administrative work for the Embassy Commissary. In
Sana'a, Linda and Russell lived in housing provided by
the State Department, and they were protected by U.S.
government security. Linda and Russell remained in Sana'a
for approximately three years. Around December 2008, Linda
and Russell moved to Japan, where Linda received her next
State Department posting. By 2012, Linda and Russell had
relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where Russell died of
pancreatic cancer that September. Linda continues to reside
Roe first met the Howards in September 2005, soon after their
arrival in Yemen. At that time, Roe was twenty years old.
Born into an impoverished family in Ethiopia, Roe had moved
to Yemen to seek work, and she initially secured various
housekeeping and cleaning jobs. In September 2005, Roe was
employed there as a waitress at a restaurant on U.S. Embassy
grounds called Uncle Sam's. It was at Uncle Sam's
that the Howards first encountered Roe and sought to befriend
of his odd jobs around the U.S. Embassy, Russell worked in a
shop next door to Uncle Sam's. He first introduced
himself to Roe, and then introduced Roe to Linda. Both
Howards paid special attention to Roe: they complimented her
appearance, initiated friendly conversations, and encouraged
her to work for them as their live-in housekeeper. At first
Roe declined the job offer, and Russell asked her to help
"find a beautiful woman like [her]self to work in [the
Howards'] home." See J.A. 232. Linda would
stop by Uncle Sam's three or four times a week, where she
would "greet" and "hug" Roe. Id.
at 231. Linda even gave Roe her personal phone number.
Id. at 234.
2006, Roe returned to Ethiopia from Yemen for several months
to care for her mother. As a result, she lost her job at
Uncle Sam's. When Roe returned to Sana'a, a young
Ethiopian woman named Sabha was then employed as the
Howards' live-in housekeeper, but Linda helped Roe obtain
a data-entry job at the U.S. Embassy. Linda gave Roe an
application for the data-entry position and taught her how to
use a basic data-entry program on Linda's home computer.
After Roe got the job, Linda continued to befriend her,
meeting Roe to talk about her hair stylist and other non-work
matters. Linda presented herself to Roe "as a friend,
someone very easy to talk to, someone with a very good
heart." See J.A. 239. Linda also promised to
help Roe find another job after the data-entry position
ended. Roe believed Linda offered such help because Linda
"really liked" her. Id. at 241.
months later, in the spring of 2007, the Howards' then
live-in housekeeper (another young Ethiopian woman named
Brhan) left them. At the time, Roe was looking for a new job
and the Howards renewed their offer to Roe to fill the
housekeeping position. Roe was uncertain about accepting the
Howards' offer. She made more money when she had jobs
that allowed her to accept tips, like waitressing. Roe also
had her own apartment and did not want to move in with the
Howards, which was a requirement of the position. But the
Howards offered to help Roe get medical treatment for an eye
ailment, renew her work visa, and aid her family in Ethiopia.
Linda also "knew that [Roe] had a desire to improve
[her] language skills," and promised that Russell could
help her with her English. See J.A. 247. As part of
their discussions about the live-in position, Linda explained
to Roe "that Russell is usually at home, he needs a
friend." Id. Linda told Roe that "the main
part of this job is to make Russell happy." Id.
at 250. Roe understood this to mean that "doing my job,
cleaning, doing everything else was what was going to make
him happy." Id. Roe accepted the position and
agreed to move in with the Howards. She began working for the
Howards in June 2007.
Roe moved into the Howards' apartment, she discovered
that, although she had her own room and bathroom, the door to
her room could not be locked without a key. The Howards told
Roe they did not have the key. The Howards then presented Roe
with a uniform consisting of a "very short" skirt
and a blouse that "looked like something you would wear
. . . when you go out." See J.A. 253. Linda had
made the outfit herself.
Roe refused to wear the uniform, Russell took Roe to the mall
to go shopping. At the mall, he purchased a "very
revealing" "one-piece" that "open[ed] in
the front," and "underwear . . . with one tiny
string" and "many holes." See J.A.
253. Back at the apartment, Russell asked Roe to put on the
new purchases "and show him what it looks like."
Id. at 254. Roe refused again and went to the
kitchen to prepare Russell's lunch. She then retired to
her room. Suddenly, Russell entered the room, naked. Roe
tried to escape but Russell cornered her, pinned her down on
the bed, and raped her. Russell continually raped and
sexually assaulted Roe for the duration of her time with the
Howards. He repeatedly threatened Roe to maintain her
silence: he verbally abused her, he warned Roe that he could
have her thrown in jail, he threatened to tell her
religiously conservative family about the assaults, and he
retained possession of her passport.
district court succinctly put it in its post-trial opinion,
"Linda Howard was aware of these assaults."
See J.A. 145-46. Linda often watched as Russell
touched Roe's rear end and breasts. Roe overheard Russell
talking to Linda on the phone about the assaults, including
complaining that Roe "wasn't like Brhan."
Id. at 258, 334. Roe knew it was Linda on the other
end of the line based on the nature and content of those
conversations. On one occasion, Russell related events to
Linda over the phone as he took Roe to a hospital to have an
intrauterine contraceptive device implanted. Russell also
told Roe that he talked to Linda about the rapes.
Roe's continued resistance to Russell's repeated
assaults and open, abject misery so enraged Russell that he
fired her in December 2007. Linda then helped Roe obtain
another restaurant job near the Howards' apartment and
wrote a letter of recommendation for her. Even then, Russell
would often stop by the restaurant to threaten Roe to
maintain her silence about the rapes he had perpetrated.
enacted the TVPA in the year 2000 "to combat trafficking
in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose
victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just
and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their
victims." TVPA, Pub. L. No. 106-386, § 102(a), 114
Stat. 1464, 1466 (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 7101(a)). The
congressional findings that accompanied the TVPA in its
original form repeatedly emphasized the transnational nature
of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and the
enforcement challenges posed by the international scope of
that criminal activity. See id., § 102(b), 114
Stat. at 1466-69.
of the TVPA, Congress created several new federal criminal
offenses intended to more comprehensively and effectively
combat human trafficking. Among other provisions, the TVPA
criminalized: "Forced labor," "[t]rafficking
with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or
forced labor," and "[s]ex trafficking of children
or by force, fraud or coercion." See TVPA,
§ 112(a)(2), 114 Stat. at 1486-88. Those provisions are
respectively codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1589, 1590,
and 1591, all within chapter 77 of Title 18.
2003, Congress reauthorized and amended the TVPA.
See Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization
Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-193, 117 Stat. 2875 (the
"2003 TVPRA"). In the findings accompanying the
2003 TVPRA, Congress stressed the challenges that remained
"in responding to the needs of victims of trafficking in
the United States and abroad." See id., §
2(2), 117 Stat. at 2875. As part of the 2003 TVPRA
amendments, Congress added a civil remedy provision to
chapter 77. See 2003 TVPRA, § 4(a)(4)(A), 117
Stat. at 2878. That civil remedy provision is codified at 18
U.S.C. § 1595(a), which provides:
(a) An individual who is a victim of a violation of [chapter
77] may bring a civil action against the perpetrator . . . in
an appropriate district court of the United ...