A landlord in the Chicago area is accused of forcing two mentally challenged tenants into turning over their paychecks to him by threatening and physically abusing them after they began renting an apartment from him in August. Roy Estivez, 26, is charged with aggravated involuntary servitude and labor trafficking, as well aggravated criminal sexual assault, according to reports in the Chicago news media. The Calumet City, Ill., man reportedly is the first person charged under Cook County’s new Human Trafficking Initiative.
The Chicago Sun-Times quoted Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Anna Planey as saying that after taking their money, Estivez even refused to allow his tenants food and instead told them to scrounge for it at work. But it was at a restaurant where the 22-year-old tenant worked that Estivez’s alleged crimes came to light, reported the Chicago Tribune. A manager there told the newspaper that he learned that the two roommates had identical burn marks on their faces, purportedly made with a heated butcher knife, and repeatedly questioned his employee about it until the man tearfully admitted to being a victim of torture.
Estivez’s family, meanwhile, told the Tribune that they were baffled by the charges against him, with his grandfather, Tomas Estivez insisting that his grandson “likes to help everybody” and reasoning, “How can you be torturing somebody when they can go in and out whenever they want?”