A man who allegedly held his former stepdaughter captive for nearly 20 years after abducting her from school — a nightmarish time during which she gave birth to nine of his children — was indicted this month on federal charges in the case, in addition to the state sex abuse accusations already brought against him, reports say.
Court papers filed Wednesday show a federal grand jury has indicted Henri Michelle Piette on charges of kidnapping and traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity with a juvenile.
Piette, 63, faces four additional state charges in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, court officials there say: two counts of lewd molestation and one count each of first-degree rape of a juvenile under than 14 and child abuse by injury.
He has pleaded not guilty to those four charges — all felonies — and remains in the Wagoner County Jail without bond, the court official says.
It is unclear if Piette has appeared in court on the federal indictment or if he has entered a plea to those two charges. If convicted, he faces possible life in prison.
His defense attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment; local prosecutors were not available on Friday.
Brian J. Kuester, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, tells PEOPLE Piette could likely go to trial within six months and that it is possible he will be prosecuted simultaneously at the state and federal level.
Earlier this year, Piette’s former stepdaughter, Rosalynn McGinnis, went public with her story in a sit-down with a UK magazine, in which she recalled meeting Piette when she was a girl — and the alleged abuse that followed.
According to the federal complaint against him, Piette first allegedly sexually assaulted McGinnis in Wagoner County in 1995 or 1996, when she was 11 or 12.
Then, at age 12, McGinnis said Piette took her from her Oklahoma school and kept her against her will for 19 years. She said he beat, raped and tortured her while she was captive.
Rosalynn McGinnis in 2010 with six of her kids in a tent in Mexico
From left: Rosalynn McGinnis on her 13th birthday, when Henri Piette threw her a quinceañera, a traditional Mexican celebration for 15-year-old girls.
In June 2016, McGinnis managed to flee — with eight of the nine children she had with Piette — from the remote village in Mexico where she had been held. (Her eldest child, a son, ran away before her escape; they have since been reunited.)
Upon her return to the U.S., the FBI began an investigation in search of Piette. PEOPLE first published her story in August.
On Sept. 7, according to the federal complaint, there was a development in the case: An FBI special agent was notified that Piette, who had resided in Central America and Mexico for a lengthy period of time, “visited the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City attempting to obtain a U.S. Passport.”
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The complaint further states Piette has “deep ties” to criminal organizations in Mexico. (The court documents do not identify McGinnis by name.
“It is also believed he [Piette] is trying to obtain a passport for the purpose for cashing United States Army Pension checks,” federal authorities alleged in the documents.
The complaint, filed on Sept. 21, sought an arrest warrant against Piette for fleeing prosecution. The Wagoner County district attorney had sent a letter the previous day to the FBI seeking their assistance in capturing Piette in Mexico, court records show.
He was arrested in Dallas on Oct. 6, according to these documents.
After his arrest and extradition to Oklahoma in October, Piette spoke out to local media to denounce the allegations against him. “Most of it are lies,” he told TV station FOX23.
“They’ve been manipulated and they’re lying,” Piette told a TV reporter about his children.
About the accusations that he was sexually abusive, he said, “I never raped any children. I made love to my wife. We were married.”
Authorities and McGinnis say otherwise.
“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” she has said.
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McGinnis said Friday she could not comment on Piette’s federal indictment, but she previously said she was grateful he was in custody.
“‘Relief’ is such a small word in comparison to how I feel about the capture of Henri Piette. However, it is the closest I am able to come to describing my overall demeanor at this time,” she said.
“Knowing that the man who physically took 22 years from me, leaving me with a lifetime of painful challenges, has been captured makes today one of the most pivotal times of my life.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help financially support McGinnis and her kids.
“My children and I suffer daily as a result of this predator’s abuse,” she said. “Now, we look forward to continuing our newfound life of freedom and moving forward, having a lifetime of happiness and success.”