By ED WHITE/Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – A federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of a former tennis pro from Africa who was accused of forcing children into hard labor at his Washtenaw County home.

Jean-Claude Toviave

Jean-Claude Toviave

In a 3-0 decision Monday, the court says ordering children to perform household chores isn’t a federal crime. The case involves Jean-Claude Toviave, a native of Togo, who helped four children emigrate from that country in 2006 with fraudulent papers.

They told a Detroit federal jury that they were beaten at their Ypsilanti home if they didn’t follow orders. The appeals court says treatment of the children was “reprehensible” but it wasn’t forced labor under the law.

Toviave is serving an 11-year prison sentence. He’s likely to remain in prison because he was convicted of other crimes.


© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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