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On February 20, a man convicted of kidnapping and traveling with a minor to engage in a sexual act was sentenced to life in prison.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice, 65-year-old Henri Michelle Piette was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, 360 months for traveling with intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile, a $50,000 fine and ordered to pay $50,067 restitution.

During the 2019 trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Piette kidnapped his stepdaughter, Rosalynn McGinnis, who was 12 at the time.

“Over the course of the nearly 20 years that followed, the defendant repeatedly raped and inflicted additional physical and emotional abuse upon the victim,” the department explained. “The victim gave birth to nine children, the first being born in 2000 when she was 15 years-old.”

Luckily, in June of 2016, McGinnis managed to flee along with eight of the nine children she had with Piette. Her eldest son had run away before her escape, but they have since been reunited. They were being held in a remote village in Mexico.

The FBI began an investigation in search of Piette upon McGinnis’ return to the U.S. In 2017, she sat down with PEOPLE and told her story while still living in fear of the man who abducted her.

On Sept. 7, 2017, an FBI special agent was notified that Piette–who had resided in Central America and Mexico for an extended period of time–“visited the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City attempting to obtain a U.S. Passport.”

A month later, he was arrested in Dallas.

“Relief is such a small word in comparison to how I feel about the capture of Henri Piette,” McGinnis said in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE. “However, it is the closest I am able to come to describing my overall demeanor at this time. 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.”

Federal prosecutors have stated that they hope Piette’s sentencing provides closure for McGinnis and her family.



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