The Saudi royal princess who is charged with forcing a Kenyan woman to work for her as a domestic servant posted $5-million bond Thursday and was expected to be released later in the day.
Meshael Alayban will have to wear a GPS tracking device and will not be allowed to leave Orange County without the court’s permission. She is also not allowed to have any contact with her alleged victim.
Alayban was arrested early Wednesday by police at her Irvine home in a gated community where they say she forced a 30-year-old to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for only $220 a month. She was unable to leave because Alayban kept the woman's passport and documents, police say.
Steve Baric, an attorney for the alleged victim who has been identified only as Jane Doe in court proceedings, said his client, who has a 7-year-old child in Kenya, is in a safe place but would not provide any more details.
He said he was “gravely concerned” about her personal safety.
"My client was a slave to this woman,” he said.
Alayban appeared in court early Thursday dressed in a jail-issued blue jumpsuit. She stood in a gated section of the courtroom and had her hair pulled straight back, and uttered “Yes, your honor” several times during the brief appearance in the Santa Ana courtroom. An Arabic-speaking interpreter translated the proceedings for the woman.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas made a rare appearance in court to represent the prosecution. He said the alleged victim came to the U.S. with Alayban and her family in May. Both had temporary visas, Rackauckas said. The alleged victim had previously lived with the family in Saudi Arabia for about one year.
The woman left the complex Tuesday, carrying a suitcase and a U.S. State Department pamphlet on human trafficking, officials said. The pamphlet had been given to her at a U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, where she was issued a travel visa.
A woman on the bus noticed she was upset and began talking to her, authorities said. That woman eventually helped her contact police.
In addition to the Kenyan woman, police said officers found four other workers being held under similar circumstances at Alayban's residence. Their passports had been locked in a safe-deposit box along with the alleged victim's, Rackauckas said. No charges have been filed in relation to the four other women, but Rackauckas said further charges are possible.
Orange County prosecutors identified Alayban as one of the wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, her attorney, Paul S. Meyer, said there was no physical abuse, no physical restraint and that the complaints were about hours worked and wages paid.
"We intend to fully investigate this matter, and expect that the truth will resolve it," he said.
Alayban's arraignment was continued until July 29.
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