Rosalynn McGinnis gave birth to nine of her stepfather’s children in Mexico. He has now been sentenced to life in prison.
Update: On February 20, 2020, after being found guilty in June 2019, Henri Michelle Piette was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping, and 360 months for traveling with intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile. His sentence included a $50,000 fine and restitution to the victim, Rosalynn McGinnis, in the amount of $50,067.00.
The below was published on November 19, 2019:
Irish American Rosalynn McGinnis, a native of Missouri, was kidnapped by her abusive stepfather Henri Piette when she was only 12 years old. The brave 35-year-old is now sharing her story and appealing for help.
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McGinnis, now safely living back in the US, reveals that Piette had begun molesting her when she was about ten years old.
On January 31, 1997, the same month that McGinnis's mother left Piette after less than a year of marriage, Piette picked up 12-year-old McGinnis from her middle school. It would be nearly two decades before she ever saw her family again.
Piette took McGinnis to a hotel room about two hours away, dyed her hair, forced her to wear glasses, and told her that she would be going by a new name. The pair bounced around hotel rooms before eventually heading to Mexico.
McGinnis’s family launched a campaign to find the missing preteen and assumed that she had been taken by Piette. The search was called off about a year after it was launched.
In Mexico, the abuse continued. McGinnis suffered a miscarriage when she was 12. At the age of 15, she gave birth to her first of nine children. McGinnis and her children lived in poverty and were subject to the seemingly incessant abuse from Piette.
Eventually, McGinnis became acquainted with an American woman Lisa and her English husband Ian who lived nearby. Lisa quickly realized that something was amiss with McGinnis and told her that if she could ever escape, Lisa would assist her.
With Piette passed out drunk one day, McGinnis seized her chance and gathered her nine children before heading to Lisa’s. There, McGinnis revealed that she had been kidnapped and Piette was actually her stepfather.
Lisa directed McGinnis to the American consulate in Mexico who, in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, assisted in bringing McGinnis and her children back home to the US.
“It took a lot of courage. It took a lot of bravery,” says Robert Lowery, the vice president for missing children at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told People Magazine about McGinnis’ escape.
“She wasn’t only concerned for herself,” Lowery says, “but for her children.”
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In June, The Washington Post reported that Piette, 63, had been found guilty of kidnapping and travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. He was also charged with lewd molestation, child abuse and first-degree rape in Oklahoma, and potentially faces life in prison.
“I know this verdict cannot heal the countless wounds inflicted by the defendant,” U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester said in a statement. “It should prevent him from ever inflicting more.”
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Now, McGinnis is sharing her story. She has launched a GoFundMe where she says funds raised will help support her nine children, as well as her dream of completing college in order to become a private investigator so she can help other children who are in similar situations to hers.
On her GoFundMe, McGinnis wrote: “I’m no longer afraid to tell it because finely the monster who took my childhood away is put behind bars for good after a long 22 years of a living hell.
“I would like to finish school go on to college and take criminal law to become a Private Investigator and help find missing children like I once was. Yes, I have dreams, but my children come first and always will.
“I was given the opportunity to purchase a fixer-upper house to make a home for my family. As you could imagine, the responsibility and costs of raising all of my children and fixing up previously abandoned house is extensive. By donating to my GoFundMe, you will not only help a kidnapping survivor but the children that I am raising from my abuse.
“I have been blessed to be supported by so many helpful and generous people these first three years of my new life. I would like to thank all of them and the people who have donated and supported my children and I."
Last year, McGinnis told her story on local 41 Action News: