A 62-year-old man accused of raping his stepdaughter after forcing her to marry him when she was 11 denied sexually assaulting her in court last week, saying that they ‘made love’ over the 19 years that he held her in captivity.
Henry Piette was arrested in Mexico earlier this month and was extradited back to the US to face charges for child sex abuse.
He is accused of keeping Rosalynn McGinnis, now 33, captive for 19 years after abducting her from her school in Poteau, Oklahoma, 1997, after breaking up with her mother.
At the time McGinnis was 12 but she says she had already been abused by the man, who was engaged to her mother, for at least a year and she had been forced to ‘marry’ him when she was 11.
In June 2016, McGinnis fled the filthy tent where she had been living in captivity with their nine children in a rural Mexican town and sought help.
She identified herself as Piette’s victim in an interview with People magazine in August where she described how Piette raped her repeatedly.
But last Thursday, Piette said she and the children he fathered with her were ‘lying’ and had been ‘manipulated’ to speak against him.
Henry Piette (above in court on Thursday) denies raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter he forced to marry him in the 1990s, saying that the pair ‘made love’ instead
Seemingly oblivious to the fact she was a child when they married, he told Fox Oklahoma 23: ‘I made love to my wife. We were married.’
He insisted that he never raped any of their children and described ’99 percent’ of the charges against him as ‘lies’.
‘I’m telling the truth,’ Piette said, adding later that his children were involved in the Mexican mafia and ‘don’t like’ him.
Piette is charged with lewd molestation, first degree rape of a victim under the age of 14 and child abuse by injury.
Prosecutors say he deliberately tried to evade police by moving around Mexico and changing his name several times over the past 20 years.
McGinnis was nine when her mother started dating Piette. He began sexually abusing her during their relationship, she said.
Piette abducted Rosalynn McGinnis when she was 12 and took her from Poteau, Oklahoma, to Mexico where he forced her to live as his wife. She is pictured with him on her 13th birthday when he threw her a quinceanera
McGinnis was 12 when Piette took her from her school in Poteau, Oklahoma, in January 1997
During her 19 years in captivity, McGinnis had nine children. She shared this photograph of them during an interview with People in August when she waived her right to anonymity to speak out against Piette
McGinnis, now 33, escaped with her children in June last year. She has since told how Piette subjected her to daily sexual abuse, beatings and torture
When she was 11, she said she was forced to ‘marry’ him in the back of a van in an illegal ceremony that was performed by one of his own children, a boy who was 15 at the time.
In 1997, her mother broke up with Piette because he had been beating her.
He retaliated by snatching Rosalynn from school and going on the run. McGinnis said that before taking her to Mexico, they traveled through the US.
She claims he introduced her to his children as their ‘new mother’.
In Mexico, she said she was subjected to daily sexual assault or rape and had nine children as a result.
Piette was arrested earlier this month in Mexico and was extradited back to the US where he now faces charges of rape and child abuse. He is pictured in court last week
She claims they lived under the radar and that no one in Mexico suspected him of wrongdoing until she confided in a woman who lived near their tent in 2016.
That woman then found a missing person’s poster from 1997 with Rosalynn’s name on it.
In June 2016, she fled their tent with eight of the nine children she had with Piette and used a pay phone in Oaxaca City to contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
They were then put in touch with the US embassy to be taken back to the US.
Rosalynn’s mother has never been publicly identified. It is not known if the pair have been reunited since she returned to America last year.
At Piette’s hearing last week, federal prosecutors dropped their charges against him to allow him to be prosecuted by the state.