For the second time in a week, authorities have charged a Detroit area doctor with breaking a federal genital mutilation law, this time arresting a suburban physician and his wife for allegedly helping another doctor perform genital cutting on 7-year-old girls in a Livonia clinic.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, while the doctor removed parts of the girls’ genitals, the wife of the clinic owner held the girls’ hands “in order to comfort them.”
Two months later, she and her husband were arrested.
Charged are Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, both of Livonia, who were arrested this morning on charges of conspiring to perform genital mutilation on minor girls by letting a doctor use their clinic to perform the procedure. According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, Attar owns the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, where prosecutors say two Minnesota girls had their genitals mutilated in February by Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who was charged last week in what is the nation’s first federal prosecution of genital cutting. She was arrested April 12 and ordered jailed pending the outcome of her case involving the two Minnesota girls, though the FBI believes she has several more victims.
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 a clinic in Livonia owned by Attar.
According to the complaint, Attar 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, the complaint said, noting multiple other young girls have told authorities that Nagarwala also performed gender 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 her Indian-Muslim community, known as the Dawoodi Bohra. The parents have not been charged. One of the girls in Minnesota was temporarily removed from the home but is now back with her parents.
The complaint unsealed today offers a more detailed look at the investigation, which relied on cell phone records, surveillance video and medical evidence to bring charges against three individuals 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 were underwent genital mutilation procedures.
A followup 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.
Here, according to the unsealed complaint, is what investigators saw happen outside the clinic at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3:
At 6:09 p.m., Nagarwala arrived at the clinic.
Four minutes later, Attar handed her a white bag in the parking lot. The two went inside the clinic.
At 6:22 p.m., Attar’s wife arrives and enters the clinic.
At 6:25 p.m., a mother and 7-year-old girl enter the clinic. They leave almost 20 minutes later. Then, a second mom and her daughter enter. They leave about 20 minutes later.
At 7:03 p.m., Nagarwala left the clinic.
In addition to the surveillance video, authorities said they also have obtained phone records that show Attar was in regular communication with members of the same Indian Muslim community in Minnesota, making 50 phone calls in three-month period starting last fall.
Authorities said they also intercepted phone calls in which Attar’s wife is heard telling members of the community not to cooperate if investigators inquire about the procedures. She allegedly told some members to “completely deny” allegations of genital mutilation and “to say that nothing happened.”
Attar and his wife are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court at 1 p.m. for an initial hearing on the charges.
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