Woman allegedly kept as servant has a child still living in Kenya

Saudi princess Meshael Alayban, right, listens to an interpreter during her scheduled appearance in court Thursday.
Saudi princess Meshael Alayban, right, listens to an interpreter during her scheduled appearance in court Thursday.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

The Kenyan woman who allegedly was kept against her will as a servant for a Saudi princess has at least one child still living in Kenya, Irvine police said.

The woman, who has not been identified, allegedly left the Irvine compound where she was kept as a servant on Tuesday, flagged down a passing bus and drew the attention of a passenger, who helped her alert police.

Meshael Alayban, identified by authorities as a royal Saudi princess, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of human trafficking. She is being held on $5-million bail but prosecutors said she will probably post bail soon.

Lt. Julie Engen, spokeswoman for the Irvine Police Department, said the victim speaks and reads English.


“We had no difficulty communicating with her,” she said. “That was what put the pressure on us. We had to move fast because we knew there were other people.”

Authorities said they found four other women working under similar conditions at the four condominiums where Alayban lived. The condominiums are in a high-end complex of apartments, condos and high-rise lofts.

Engen said the four women, all from the Philippines, are not being treated officially as victims yet, but their individual cases are still under investigation.

“The detective spoke to them, and said, ‘Do you want to leave with us?’ And they said yes,” Engen said of the Filipina women. “There is a possibility that they may be considered victims, but right now they left voluntarily.”

Each woman was working with the family under different agreements, and it was unclear how long each had been working for the family.

As for Alayban, Engen said she has “more than one” child, but she didn’t know how many. She said the number of people living in the four units “varied.”

“The way I understand it, in Saudi Arabia, there was a palace they stayed in” where extended family members came and went, Engen said, and the set-up may have been similar here.

However, the investigation right now is focused solely on Alayban.


Asked whether other suspects may be arrested, Engen said: “We’re investigating all aspects, so I can’t say no, absolutely not.”

“Right now, the focus is very much on one suspect. She was the one who made the arrangements and got the passports. All aspects are swirling around this one suspect right now.”


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