St. Charles County prosecutors say that a 20-year-old college student...

St. Charles County prosecutors say that a 20-year-old college student from India was held in this home on Highway D in Defiance, Mo., Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, where he was forced to do chores and was beaten repeatedly over the course of several months. Credit: AP/Robert Cohen

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Three men held a student from India captive over the course of several months and forced him to work and perform menial tasks, then viciously beat him when he didn't complete the chores to their satisfaction, a Missouri prosecutor said Thursday.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph McCulloch announced charges against Venkutesh Sattaru, 35; Nikhil Penmatsa, 27; and Sravan Penumetcha, 23. All three face counts related to human trafficking, kidnapping and other crimes. They are jailed without bond and don't have attorneys listed yet.

The 20-year-old victim is hospitalized with a broken nose, broken ribs and bones in his hands and feet, and severe injuries from being punched, stomped on and beaten with pipes and a wire that left him scarred “from the top of his head literally to the bottom of his feet,” McCulloch said.

Authorities said the victim is the cousin of Sattaru, who owns an information technology company. The student came to the U.S. about a year ago to attend college but instead was forced to work at the company and perform other tasks demanded by the suspects, McCulloch said.

He was kept at various times in the basements of three homes without adequate food and water, and with no bathroom, authorities said.

The victim was discovered by police after a neighbor of one of the homes in the small rural town of Defiance, Missouri, asked police to perform a wellness check. As officers were at the home this week, the victim “ran out of the house yelling, screaming for help,” McCulloch said.

Charging documents say that the victim told police he feared he would be killed if he told anyone about the abuse because Sattaru is wealthy with deep connections in India, and the other men also are wealthy.

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