Human Trafficking Charges Dropped Against Saudi Princess

A Saudi princess was accused of enslaving domestic servants in her Southern California condominium

An attorney for a Saudi princess whose human trafficking case was dropped on Friday said justice was served and the nightmare has ended for a revered member of a prominent family.

An Orange County Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Meshael Alayban, 42, saying there was not enough evidence that she enslaved her maid in her Southern California condo.

"Justice was done in this case," her attorney Paul S. Meyer said after Friday's court hearing in Santa Ana. "The princess is now and has always been innocent of human trafficking."

Meyer said the case was a nightmare for an "exceptional" family in Saudi Arabia.

"The dismissal today answers the prayers of 26 million people," Meyer said. "The princess is free. People have been praying for that."

The decision came during a hearing at which she was expected to be arraigned on one count of human trafficking and could have faced up to 12 years in prison, if convicted.

Alyban's lawyers traveled the world -- to the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Africa -- to track down friends and family of the accuser and other people who work for the princess, Meyers said.

Meyers said those attorneys collected photos of the accuser allegedly living in the lap of luxury while working for the royal family. He added that those pictures were eventually deleted from social media sites.

The case broke in July when a maid from Kenya told police she escaped an Irvine condo. She told police she was paid $220 a month for 16-hour days, seven days a week, with no time off.

Among her duties were cooking, cleaning and caring for at least eight people in the condo complex, officials said.

Prosecutors said they were dropping charges because the investigation showed it was not human trafficking.

"We had reason to believe they were true," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas after Friday's hearing. "Bringing the case under the circumstances was the right thing to do. At the time, it appeared the evidence would corroborate what the victims said."

Alayban and her attorneys likened the case to a contract dispute and said the maid and her counterparts were treated well.

Alayban is one of six wives to a grandson of the king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. She came to the U.S. with her three children on a vacation visa and has been in Irvine since at least May, officials said.

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