Are you a sexual abuse survivor harmed at a mosque by a religious leader or others in authority? Then, you have legal rights to pursue justice and stop the sexual predator from harming others.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our compassionate sexual abuse attorneys can discuss what happened in a confidential setting to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
An innocent victim suffering sexual abuse by a religious leader often develops permanent psychological scars and spiritual damage. In many cases, the sexual trauma remains secret for years or decades as victim’s hide their embarrassment and shame, unwilling to step forward because of fear.
Their survivor’s disgrace and humiliation often make them unsure of what to do or understand their legal rights to pursue justice and hold the abuser legally and financially accountable.
However, in recent years, the public’s collective outcry for accountability and justice has given sexual abuse survivors the strength they need to hold the accused sexual perpetrators liable.
Sexual Assault Against Muslim Women and Children
Parents, guardians, and teachers are trusted with keeping kids safe from harm and can often do so without any suspicion. However, abuse is a cycle of violence with no end in sight.
In the United States alone, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused before they reach age 18. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for children to be abused by those they trust the most.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), less than 1/10 of 1% of all sexual assault cases nationwide are referred to prosecutors, including those involving religious leaders. While the prevalence of sexual assault among Islam authorities is not like the Catholic Church, many Muslim men have sexually victimized many Muslim women and children.
The effects of abuse on children have been well documented; these include PTSD, behavioral problems, emotional instability, depression, and anxiety.
Over the last decade, society has been changing expectations about what we think “normal” sexual behavior should look like and educating ourselves about the warning signs of potential sexual abusers and victims so that we may help others who need it most.”
In many cases of abuse or incest, it is only when a child shares their story that someone else becomes aware of the situation. Therefore, abused adults and children are encouraged to call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) to speak confidentially with someone who will listen and give you advice on how best to proceed.
Seeking Civil Justice for Sexual Abuse
Many sexual abuse survivors seek civil justice even if the criminally charged religious leader was found not guilty of sexual abuse or prosecutors do not file charges. Victims of child sex abuse can file a civil lawsuit based on numerous legal theories.
In some situations, both the sexual predator and their employer, including religious institutions, can be sued by the sexual abuse survivor or the child’s parents.
Criminal and Civil Processes
There is a unique interplay between the civil and criminal processes in holding a sexual predator accountable. Under criminal law, prosecutors will file charges against the defendant to hold them accountable through incarceration and other penalties.
However, the criminal process does not include monetary compensation for the sexual abuse survivor or family members.
Under civil law, the sexual abuse survivor or family can file a civil lawsuit against the sexual abuser in civil court, seeking monetary damages once the criminal trial is completed, or if the prosecution chooses not to take the case to trial.
Usually, based on “collateral estoppel,” there is a lower standard of proof for the plaintiff (the injured party) to win their case in civil court than waiting for the defendant to be convicted for the same acts at a criminal trial. Plus, unlike criminal court, the injured party can receive financial compensation for their damages at a civil trial or settlement meeting.
A Sexual Abuse Survivor Reports an Imam’s Inappropriate Behavior
Zia ul-Haq Sheikh was a well-known and respected Imam at several Dallas-area mosques, including the Islamic Center of Irving (Islamic Masjid), before being accused of sexual assault. In July 2018, an alleged sexual abuse survivor filed a civil lawsuit against Sheikh, citing exploitation.
The judge ordered Zia ul-Haq Sheikh to pay his sexual abuse survivor $2.55 million for mental anguish, legal fees, and other damages. Sheikh responded in an email that he believed the judgment was “in error.”
The Burden of Proof
The plaintiff’s attorney said her client had the burden of proof to hold Sheikh accountable in a civil case seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She stated that her client filed a civil lawsuit after investigators dropped her criminal complaint, and no charges were brought against the Imam.
The lawsuit documents claim that the former Imam sexually exploited “Jane Doe” while acting as her mental health services provider. The claimant also accuses Sheikh of counseling malpractice.
The document states that the claimant’s “emotional dependency as a result of being counseled by [the] defendant from age 13 to age 19 led Jane to be fearful of losing [the] defendant’s support in her life, and therefore created a situation where Jane was unable to refuse the defendant’s requests.”
The lawsuit document refers to the former Imam’s alleged requests from Jane to provide sexually explicit photos and videos. Additionally, the document charges Sheikh of sexual abuse involving Jane through intercourse.
Sexual Intercourse With a Minor
The lawsuit acknowledges that when Jane Doe was 19 years old, she engaged in sexual intercourse with Sheikh at a Motel 6. The former Imam allegedly gave Jane a pregnancy test, telling her that it was to ensure she was not pregnant that could cost him his job.
After the sexual conduct at Motel 6, the former Imam ended his professional conduct with Doe, no longer providing counseling, but failed to refer her to a new counselor. However, he allegedly continued to send text messages.
Sheikh acknowledged that he had been employed as the Grand Prairie Mosque Imam beginning May 2018 but resigned from his position to protect the masjid from “any type of negativity.”
Imam Mohamed Shakib stated in a Facebook video that Sheikh was no longer affiliated with the Grand Prairie mosque nor associated with the Grand Prairie Islamic Society. Shakib stated that “we thank him for his service to the community, and we wish and well for the future.”
Did prosecutors assume that the former Imam’s relationship with Doe was consensual?
Texas law (20) 2.011 states that “a sexual assault under subsection (a) (1) is without the consent of the other person if: the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman and the clergyman’s professional character as [a] spiritual advisor.”
Texas law seems to clearly define the facts in the case concerning the interaction between Jane Doe and the former Imam as de facto non-consensual.
Child Bride Investigation of Philadelphia Mosque
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2019 – An alleged sexual assault victim’s Facebook video initiated a police investigation concerning child weddings conducted at a Philadelphia masjid. The 17-year-old victim described her ordeal of becoming a child bride at 14 years old.
The teenager stated that “at the time I was a virgin. It was going to be my first marriage, of course.” The alleged sexual abuse survivor stated that the “relationship” began in 2016 with a Muslim man more than twice her age who was sexually assaulting her and her 10-year-old sister.
Inappropriate Sexual Encounters
Police charged the Muslim man Rajmann Sanders with over one dozen sexual offenses against the two girls, including rape, forcible compulsion, and indecent assault. In addition, the criminal complaint states that Sanders threatened to shoot the older child during one of many inappropriate sexual encounters.
Investigators are looking into claims of child weddings occurring at the Masjid Uthman Dan Fodiyo mosque on Paschall in Philadelphia. The older sexual abuse survivor said that her unofficial marriage took place at the masjid.
A Pedophiles Warning
The young woman said she was coming forward to warn parents and other children of what was occurring. The teenager said, “this is not healthy for me or my kids. No one should want their kids around this, especially with the pedophilia; that should be enough to say, ‘no, I don’t want my kids around this.'”
The police conducted search warrants at the Masjid Uthman Dan Fodiyo mosque and the leader’s home. The Department of Human Services took the sexually assaulted accuser and her younger sister into protective custody while the Muslim man remains in jail awaiting trial.
Church & Mosque Sexual Abuse Survivors and Me Too Movement
In late 2017, the Me Too Movement erupted on the national stage, dominating weeks of a non-ending new cycle involving millions of sexual abuse survivors. American activist Tarana Burke founded the Me Too Movement in 2006 providing a social media platform where the sexually assaulted can air their stories of how they were abused recently or decades ago.
The organization’s initial rise affected worldwide communities, leading sexual abuse survivors to use social media to speak out around the globe.
Many sexual abuse survivors took to social media, describing an inappropriate sexual relationship involving sexual harassment, assault, and rape, taking the innocence of children, women, and men. Hundreds of thousands of cases involved sexual assault in the workplace, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, mosques, and the holiest shrines of the Islamic faith, the Grand Mosque in the Holy City of Mecca.
Many abused survivors described the trauma and harm they had experienced, identifying their sexual abusers, most of the men, toppling them from their authoritative positions of power.
The movement continues to move forward with survivor activists and advocates, many Muslim women, increasing awareness of how sexual violence in America remains prevalent, harming new victims.
Hire a Sexual Abuse Injury Lawyer to Resolve Your Personal Injury Case
Are you or a loved one a sexual abuse survivor involving non-consensual activity? Was the sexual abuser a religious man or woman? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent clients sexually molested by others and seek justice against the predators and institutions covering up the wrong.
Call a sexual abuse injury lawyer at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form today for more information or schedule a free consultation. Then, we can discuss the circumstances of your case in a confidential setting. All sensitive information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
We accept all personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are paid only after resolving your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award. If we do not win, you do not pay.
- Sexual Abuse at the Mosque
- Tampa Bay Times – Muslim Accusations of Abuse & Harassment
- #MeToo Movement & Sexual Violence
Many million-dollar lawsuits have already been resolved, paying sexual abuse victims the compensation they deserve. Call your attorney today at (888) 424-5757 to discuss what happened to you and receive a free case review, legal advice, and options to move forward.