Last year, a Chilean nanny filed a damning lawsuit claiming that an Upper East Side socialite couple forced her into indentured servitude, denying her food and medication. That lawsuit has been in dispute ever since—a judge dismissed the case due to "rampant inconsistencies," but also required that the family pay over $6,000 in back pay—but the legal troubles have led to a unique problem for 30-year-old Malu Custer Edwards and her 37-year-old husband Micky Hurley: they can't leave Italy.
The Times breaks out the world's smallest violin as they report that the couple and their three children have been unable to leave Italy since going for a three-week vacation in August. The family has been refused re-entry by the State Department due to the ongoing lawsuit—more specifically because they were allegedly engaged in "human trafficking" (though they have neither been charged nor admitted to doing so).
The family is frustrated:
“'Well, what’s so bad about Italy?'” Ms. Edwards asked, repeating a question she has heard from friends. “Well, just wait until you are anywhere in the world, and you think you’ll be there a couple of weeks, and then be told you can’t go back to where your life is.”
School started in New York without the family. Back home, “the children have their friends, their toys, their clothing,” Ms. Edwards said. “You come on vacation with your summer clothes, and all of a sudden it’s colder.”
Edwards told the Post that the lawsuit by nanny Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica has been a nightmare for them: "We have received hate mail and even death threats from the lies that were said about our children and ourselves," she said. "We just want to return to our current lives in New York." The couple also received criticisms after emails were released that paint Hurley as a pretentious rich snob.
In her lawsuit, Garnica claimed she was brought to America with an illegal passport “under false pretenses and for the purpose of unlawfully compelling her to care for their young children.” She says she was only paid $800 monthly, equal to just $2 per hour, despite being promised $10 an hour (plus health insurance, medical care, food, clothes and lodging). There were also accusations of being berated, belittled, and locked in her room; those more incendiary accusations have been contradicted however.
Certainly it's an unpleasant situation, but having said, Italy seems like a pretty okay place to be stuck, as long as you avoid any yuppies who talk about taking the past, putting it into a room, locking the door and never going in there.