Couple Sentenced for Slavery of Pinay

By Cynthia De Castro/

James Jackson, former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine during his sentencing in US District Court in Los Angeles. The couple pleaded guilty earlier to harboring Nena Ruiz, a domestic worker whose visa had expired, and holding her in forced labor.

Elizabeth was accused of bringing Ruiz from the Philippines to the United States in 2001, confiscating her passport and forcing her to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, authorities said. Ruiz, who worked in the Jacksons’ home from 2001 to 2002 and was threatened with deportation if she left without permission, was paid no more than $400 a month.

“These defendants used their power and affluence to coerce a vulnerable woman into their personal service for several months,” said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Elizabeth Jackson’s attorney was unavailable for comment. All forced-labor charges against her husband were dropped by federal prosecutors, said Richard Steingard, James Jackson’s attorney.

“I am grateful that all charges against Mr. Jackson were dismissed,” Steingard said. “I am terribly sorry that his wife received a prison sentence, as neither I nor Mr. Jackson believe that the imposition of that sentence is necessary.”

In 2004, Nena Ruiz was awarded $825,000 in damages by a Los Angeles jury after she sued her former employers. Ruiz said that Elizabeth Jackson regularly slapped her, pulled her hair, forced her to sleep on a dog bed, and gave her three-day-old food to eat while she was expected to clean and provide fresh food to the Jacksons’ dogs. The domestic worker finally ran away after she was hit in the mouth with a water bottle in February 2002.


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