Gloria and Alfred Edwards Jr. admit that they broke the law by bringing a woman from the Philippines to the United States under false pretenses, lying on visa applications and having her stay in their Maryland home for a decade.
Alfred, 74, a retired Army doctor, and Gloria, 61, say their intentions were pure: They were trying to help an impoverished, illiterate woman from the Philippines start a new life in the United States.
The government, however, contends that the couple effectively enslaved the woman — known in court papers by her initials T.E. — in their Upper Marlboro home, forcing her to work without pay as a maid and threatening her with financial ruin, deportation and personal harm if she ran away.
A judge in U.S. District Court in Maryland will soon decide the Edwardses’ punishment, nearly a year after the husband and wife each pleaded guilty to harboring an undocumented immigrant and shielding her from detection. The severity of the sentence will probably hinge on whether Judge Deborah K. Chasanow believes that the couple forced T.E. to cook and clean against her will and whether the judge determines that the aging couple should be imprisoned for their crimes.