Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas today dismissed a human trafficking charge against a Saudi princess accused of keeping a housekeeper against her will due to lack of evidence.
Meshael Alayban's accuser lied in a likely attempt to win a special visa that would allow her full citizenship, the princess' attorneys said after this morning's hearing, during which Rackauckas moved to dismiss the case.
Alayban's attorneys said the housekeeper traveled to Orange County in first class, had her own cellphone and shopped at neighborhood malls on the employer's dime in addition to many other benefits.
Alayban, 42, was released on $5 million bail in July but was wearing a GPS device to track her movements and was not allowed to leave Orange County without permission. Her passport has been returned and she is free to leave.
The accuser and four other employees were promised help with visas and gaining employment here by Irvine police if they backed up claims of human trafficking, Alayban's attorneys Paul S. Meyer and Jennifer Keller, said.
The attorneys praised Rackauckas for keeping an "open mind," and considering the exculpatory evidence.
Alayban is the wife of Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a grandson of Saudi King Abdullah, according to her attorneys.
The charge against Alayban marked the first case of forced labor human trafficking to be prosecuted in Orange County under terms of Proposition 35, approved by voters in November. The new law would have increased Alayban's potential punishment if she had been convicted from about six years to 12 years behind bars, according to Rackauckas.
The alleged victim, a 30-year-old Kenyan woman, left Alayban's condominium in Irvine July 9 and flagged down a passing bus, Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen said.
The woman said she sought employment because her 7-year-old daughter was ill and she needed money for medical care, Rackauckas said. She was hired to cook, clean and do other household chores in her employer's palace, according to prosecutors.
When the woman reported for duty, she claimed her passport was taken from her and she was made work excessively long hours for a fraction of the agreed-upon salary. She complained and asked for her passport back, but she said it was refused, Engen said.
-- City News Service