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Man charged with forcing woman to work for him, sexually abusing her

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Brookfield businessman is facing multiple charges and several of his properties could be confiscated by authorities.

He is accused of forcing a woman into sex and free labor. A federal grand jury is charging Harshinder Bhatia of forcing a woman to work for him and abusing her sexually, all while withholding her passport.

Bhatia's tenants say they're completely shocked to learn of the charges. 

Leslie West rents a home owned by 58-year-old Harshinder Bhatia who federal agents say forced an immigrant woman from India to work for him for free, threatening her with sexual abuse.

"You can't do women like that and keep them enslaved, that's not right, slavery is over with no matter what race you are," said West.

The indictment charges that Bhatia intimidated the woman, causing her to believe that if she didn't comply with his wishes she would suffer serious harm.

West has lived in the home for almost 5 years. She says she doesn't deal with Bhatia directly but pays her rent to Bhatia's sister-in-law who declined to comment on the matter.

The indictment states that Bhatia committed the labor-related crimes at his business between 2009 and 2011. The government also plans on confiscating at least two of his properties, claiming they were used in the offenses or purchased off of proceeds. The first is the duplex on Villard and the other is the BP Gas Station on 76th Street.

The indictment also lists 9 other properties belonging to Bhatia including his Brookfield home, other gas stations, and Leslie's home as possible forfeiture substitute properties. 

CBS 58 News reached out to Bhatia's attorney who replied that he cannot speak on the case of current clients.

Bhatia was arraigned on the charges on October 24. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison for the charge of forced labor. 

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