Shortly before a district judge released Fakhruddin and Farida Attar on bond, a federal prosuector revealed the couple may have participated in over 100 acts of female genital mutilation.
On Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward told a judge that Dr. Jumana Nagarwala could have victimized up to 100 young women and girls.
Woodward made her statements in a plea to keep Nagarwala’s co-defendants behind bars for the duration of the trial.
Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida, are accused of allowing Nagarwala to perform female genital mutilation at their Livonia, MI, clinic. Prosecutors said that the Attars and Nagarwala – all members of a small Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra – received girls from across the Midwest for the express purpose of cutting and removing parts of their genitals.
Woodward claims that the trio of defendants had been breaking the law for over a decade.
Since the case began, the federal government has managed to identify a total of eight women who had the procedure performed on them by Nagarwala.
Going against the wishes of the prosecution, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman released both Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida, on bond. Woodman had argued that the couple were a flight risk and posed a danger to the community, considering how long they’re alleged to have participated in female genital mutilation procedures.
Fakhruddin Attar had admitted that he allowed Nagarwala to use his clinic for FGM at least six times, which led to the government’s ‘conservative estimate’ of at least 100 girls and young women having been victimized.
Mary Chartier, Attar’s lawyer, tried to dismiss the prosecution’s concern by positing its case as overblown.
“I think the government has overstated so many aspects of this case and this is one more example of overstating,” Chartier said during the Wednesday hearing, during which she and another lawyer convinced Judge Friedman to release the Attars on bond.
So far, the Attars and Nagarwala have maintained their innocence, saying the Livonia clinic was used for religious rites which involved the scraping of genital membrane rather than incisions or removal of tissue.
Due to the serious charges against the defendants – the case is the first alleging female genital mutilation in the history of American courts – Judge Friedman granted bond only if the Attars agreed to strict conditions.
After they’re released Thursday, they will have to surrender their passports to the court and will be placed on house arrest. Both husband and wife will be tracked with GPS tethers and won’t be allowed to leave their home or travel except to visit their lawyers and doctors.
If convicted, Fakhruddin Attar and Jumana Nagarwala both face life in prison, while Farida Attar could be incarcerated for up to 20 years.
Nagarwala remains behind bars, but her lawyer has said release on bond will also be sought.