The Perils of Marilise

A child of a Tonton Macoute family escaped political violence in Haiti - and then her real troubles began

Marilise became ill en route to Chicago and was admitted to a hospital in St. Louis after the plane landed for a stopover. "I stayed in St. Louis for one day, where they found a kidney infection. Then they sent me back to Miami, and I was taken to Windmoor [Hospital]."

That was where Marilise reencountered an INS officer named Ronald (another fictitious name), who had been transferred from Krome to guard the detainees (principally with psychiatric disorders) at the hospital. A few months earlier at the detention center, Marilise had asked Ronald to mail a letter for her. "Afterward, he asked me am I going to pay him for doing that," Marilise recounts. "I told him I don't have no money now, but when I get a job, I pay. He says, "No, I want you to give me some pussy.'"

That was one of the earlier sexual exchanges in what would become a long-running affair. Marilise says Ronald assured her he'd swing her release, and she trusted him. Although the INS had ordered her deported long ago, her immigration attorney had filed a routine motion requesting the service to reconsider its order. If the INS accepted the petition (something immigration attorneys say almost never happens), her case would be reviewed. Marilise told Ronald she was awaiting a decision, and he promised, never offering specifics, to make sure she'd get the review.

Steve Satterwhite
Marilise doesn't want to reveal where she and her son live
Steve Satterwhite
Marilise doesn't want to reveal where she and her son live

"One day early, I was sleeping," Marilise goes on, "and [Ronald] came in and snatched the covers off me and started kissing me. He sucked my titty, put his hand inside my underwear, inside my vagina. He took out a condom, and I said I'm not gonna have sex with a condom. If we get caught, I wanted there to be evidence. Then he went out. Next time, on a Saturday, I was in the bathtub naked. Somebody opened the bathroom door. We started kissing, and he asked me to have sex. I told him not with a condom."

Apparently, a sexual relationship continued, though without intercourse. "Sometimes [Ronald] brought me gum [at Windmoor]," Marilise says. "I wanted some tennis shoes, and he said if I stick with him, he'd bring me tennis shoes." She was feeling more upbeat than she had in months, enjoying the romantic attention and expecting a prompt release. Then the immigration service denied her request to review the deportation order. Stubbs, Krome's officer in charge, decided that Marilise continued to be a danger to society. She was crushed. Suddenly, she was back to where she started, except she'd given up a lot to get there. "I found out everybody was lying to me," Marilise laments. "After that, I was so depressed. The week after I was denied, I started to tell everybody about [the relationship with Ronald]."

She unburdened herself to low-level INS employees, who couldn't really make a difference in her situation, and she tried to tell her story to authorities who could. Around that time, spring 2000, other INS detainees at Krome were beginning to band together and report to attorneys and law enforcers their own experiences of sexual abuse and harassment by other officers. But Marilise didn't know about that. She might as well have been a street-corner mendicant mumbling to herself. Her decision to contact the top authority at Krome, Stubbs, quickly backfired. "When I called his office," Marilise relates, "the man on the phone asked me: "Is there an officer with you?' I said yes. He says, "Let me talk to him,' so I handed the phone to the officer, and the officer hung up the phone. I asked him: "Why did you do that?' And he said, "You're not allowed to talk to Stubbs.'"

Immediately after that, Marilise was transferred to a detention facility in South Carolina, where she stayed for two weeks. "They think I'm crazy; I'm complaining to everybody, and nobody is listening to me," Marilise admits. "When I came back from South Carolina, I said I want to talk to the FBI, but I couldn't find anybody to give me a number. Then my deportation officer said they were sending me back to Haiti. That's when I tried to commit suicide."

On a Saturday night in late July, Marilise remembers, she attempted to strangle herself in a snack room with an electrical cord from a microwave oven. An officer stopped her, so she went to the health clinic and tried again with the cord on a blood-pressure machine. That time, a nurse grabbed the line from her. The next morning, Marilise gulped down 45 pills she had been given for her kidney infection. Her stomach was pumped at Larkin Hospital, and then she was driven back to Windmoor. "There, I found out Stubbs was no longer at Krome, so I tried to call whoever had replaced him," Marilise continues. Again, she got nowhere. Finally, she called Nadia, her half sister, who connected her with a Sun-Sentinel reporter via conference call. In an August 3, 2000, story headlined "Krome Detainee Says She Was Promised Freedom in Exchange for Sex," Jody Benjamin wrote that Marilise "is speaking out now... because she feels betrayed." The article cites two incidents in which Marilise alleges she "let [the guards] do whatever they want to do because I thought they were going to help me."

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