The lawsuit alleges that even after he was briefed on the predatory acts of 51-year-old Ehab Ghoneim, the mosque moved him to another position rather than denying and reporting him.
Two Florida lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Area Islamic Society alleging that the mosque is a “hotbed” for sexual abuse.
According to News Channel 8, the lawsuit accuses the Islamic Society of covering up cases of abuse of 51-year-old Ehab Moustafa Ghoneim.
Ghoneim, a Pinellas Park resident, has been charged with multiple illegal sexual activities and is awaiting extradition to Chicago.
Local police say Ghoneim met children in the Tampa Bay Area Islamic Society, often referred to as the Sligh Mosoque. After acquainting himself with the minors, Ghoneim is said to have tended them and then hunted them.
Attorney Sam Badawi said these types of lawsuits – involving young children – are among the toughest he could have dealt with.
“This is one of the toughest cases for a lawyer to have,” Badawi told ABC Action News. “We interviewed the customer and his family, and it’s not easy.”
Badawi and fellow lawyer Cory Baird, ABC Action News said, filed the lawsuit on behalf of a victim’s family.
In a statement to ABC Action News, Badawi stated that his then 15-year-old client had told him that Ghoneim had sexually assaulted him at Ghoneim’s house in Pinellas Park.
“During his sleep [Ghoneim] Initiated inappropriate sexual contact, including touch [Defendant’s] Genitals, ”the lawsuit says.
The same plaintiff, identified only as John Doe 1 in court documents, says Ghoneim continued to abuse him on overnight and out-of-town excursions hosted by the mosque.
Handcuffs and keys sit on fingerprint card; Image by Bill Oxford, via Unsplash.com.
“Ehab offered pills to children to help them sleep, but the pills were tranquilizers to give Ehab a sexual advantage over John Doe while he was sleeping,” Badawi said.
Badawi told ABC Action News that the mosque did little after being informed of Ghoneim’s alleged wrongdoing – instead of opening an investigation, contacting law enforcement, or terminating Ghoneim’s membership, they simply moved him to another position.
“They are new to America in a new society and they have learned the basics they know from the motherland, namely the mosque,” said Badawi. “And they failed.”
“You are shaken, you are broken, you are speechless,” he said.
Badawi, Baird and the Pinellas police believe that Ghoneim likely had several victims who have yet to be identified.
“I think if you do the calculations and the exposure rate, how many boys circulated through this youth program, and it was him – he was five years,” Badawi said. “So I would assume the number is two digits.”
Baird told ABC Action News that anyone who has been molested or believes their child has been molested should not remain silent.
“If your child has been to the mosque and attended these events in this youth program, you need to reach out to your child,” said Baird. “Talk about it and be open about it, let them know that it is absolutely fine to tell your people all they can.”
“And when that happens, unfortunately, we’ll find a lot more boys who have been sexually abused.”
Badawi suggested that the Tampa Bay Area Islamic Society may have known about Ghoneim’s raids long before the man was arrested.
Ghoneim, says Badawi, previously worked in a mosque in New Jersey – and there may also arouse suspicion among parents.
“From conversations with people, interviews with others, there has been some evidence for some time that this man’s actions are very suspicious,” Badawi said. “Well, we don’t know how long [ISTABA] knew about it. Probably for a long time. “
WFLA.com notes that the Islamic Society is the only defendant in the lawsuit so far. The mosque said it was cooperating with the authorities.
“ISTABA is taking a position to enable the authorities to take every opportunity to complete their investigations and uncover the truth,” the mosque administrators wrote in a statement addressed to their community.
$ 5 million lawsuit accuses former Tampa Islamic youth director of using drugs and molesting “several boys”
Lawyers sue local mosque for sexual abuse by youth leaders