The father of a 7-year-old Minnesota girl who allegedly came to Michigan in February for a genital mutilation procedure knew about the trip, texted with his wife while she was in metro Detroit and now regrets letting his daughter come here in light of the explosive criminal charges, according to documents obtained by the Free Press.
“(He) told the Child Protection investigator that if they knew what would come of it, this never would have happened,” authorities wrote in a child protection services petition filed in Hennepin County, Minn.
The petition contradicts a widely held belief in the victim’s family’s Indian-Muslim community: that genital cutting is a closely guarded secret among only women, and that the men don’t know about it.
“(The father) knew about where they were because (his wife) texted him,” states the petition, which offers fresh details in a case that has so far landed two doctors and a woman in jail on genital mutilation charges involving two Minnesota girls.
According to the petition, one of the victims told a child protection investigator that she and her friend “got cake after” the alleged procedure “because the doctor said they were doing good.” The girl also told the investigator that there were three people in the clinic and that “the doctor made her cry,” the petition states.
None of the parents have been charged, though Minnesota authorities temporarily removed the girls from their homes. They are now back with their parents.
“This is a very difficult situation,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “This is the kind of conduct that should not be imposed on little kids. The parents, simply, should know better.”
Meanwhile, in a historic prosecution in Detroit, two of the defendants charged in the case are due in court today to find out whether a judge will grant them bond, or keep them locked up on charges that they were involved in the alleged genital cuttings.
Those two defendants are Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, who were arrested Friday morning at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, where the alleged cuttings took place. Prosecutors say the wife held the girls’ hands during the procedure and that the husband let another doctor use his clinic to perform the mutilations. Both are charged with conspiracy to perform genital mutilation.
All three defendants are part of a small, Indian-Muslim community known as the Dawoodi Bohra, which was at the center of an Australian genital-cutting prosecution that sent three people to prison in 2015.
Nagarwala has denied the allegation, maintaining through her lawyer that she did perform a scraping procedure on the girls’ genitals for religious purposes, but that it wasn’t cutting. She was denied bond last week and remains jailed after the judge concluded she was a danger to society and a flight risk.
The Attars also have denied any wrongdoing.
Nagarwala, an emergency room doctor with the Henry Ford Health System, has been placed on leave. She is not accused of performing any genital mutilation at the hospital, but rather at the Livonia clinic owned by Attar.
According to the court documents,Attar, an internist, has admitted to authorities that Nagarwala has used his clinic after hours to treat children ages 6-9 for problems with their genitals, including genital rashes, but that she only saw the patients “when the clinic is closed on Friday evenings or Saturdays.” She never billed for the procedures nor documented them, authorities have alleged in court documents, noting multiple other young girls have told authorities that Nagarwala also performed genital mutilation on them.
Nagarwala has claimed through her lawyer that she did not engage in any actual cutting, but rather that she removed a membrane from the genital area using a “scraper” and gave it to the parents to bury in the ground as part of a religious custom within the Dawoodi Bohra community.
An organization that oversees the Dawoodi Bohra community in Detroit has said the group does not condone its members breaking the law and has since urged all members not to practice anything that could be construed as genital mutilation.
According to an affidavit unsealed Friday by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, cell phone records and surveillance video helped trigger charges against all three defendants, who were all placed at the alleged scene of the crime. The case involves two Minnesota girls whose mothers brought them to Michigan in February for what the girls thought was a special girls weekend. Instead, prosecutors allege, they ended up at the Livonia clinic on Feb. 3, where they underwent genital mutilation procedures.
A follow-up exam by a Minnesota doctor revealed that the girls’ genitals had been altered. According to surveillance video outside the clinic, Nagarwala, Attar and Attar’s wife were all there. Attar let Nagarwala in the clinic while his wife held the girls’ hands to comfort them, the affidavit said.
Authorities said phone records also show Attar was in regular communication with members of the same Indian Muslim community in Minnesota, making 50 phone calls in a three-month period starting last fall. Authorities said they also intercepted phone calls in which Attar’s wife is heard telling one Michigan member of the religious community not to cooperate if investigators inquire about the procedures. She allegedly told that parent to “completely deny” allegations of genital mutilation and “to say that nothing happened.”
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