'Refugee' named Mohamed sexually assaults disabled U.S. woman, media silent
A refugee newly arrived from Somalia has been tried and convicted for attempting to sexually assault a special-needs woman while she was sitting outside of a home for the disabled in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Liban Mohamed, 39, was in the United States for only about a week when he tried to force himself on a 31-year-old woman with severe disabilities. He is not a U.S. citizen, but whether he will be deported in the wake of his conviction remains unclear.
The trial for Mohamed was held just a few days before Christmas and not a word of the conviction has made it into the local media, residents of Aberdeen told WND on Tuesday.
Mohamed speaks no English and required two interpreters at trial, according to the state’s attorney who prosecuted the case.
“I do know he lived in Aberdeen,” prosecutor Christopher White told WND. “The day that it happened, he was staying at the White House Inn hotel in Aberdeen. What came out at trial, in his defense attorney’s opening statement, was that he arrived in Aberdeen that day and had only been in the United States for approximately a week, and he had come to work at the beef plant in Aberdeen. But I don’t know if he had already started working or was about to start work there.”
Mohamed mentioned to law enforcement that he had been hired on at the Demkota Ranch beef plant, White said.
WND called the executive editor of Aberdeen’s daily newspaper, the American News, and asked why nothing has been reported on the crime committed by Mohamed. He said he had no knowledge of Mohamed’s arrest, trial or conviction.
“I’m not seeing it in our system, and I really don’t recall it,” said editor J.J. Perry when asked about the case Tuesday by WND. “I’ll have to talk to our court reporter. It might be we just missed it on the docket.”
The newspaper’s court reporter, Elisa Sand, did not attend the trial, WND was told by officials who were present on Dec. 20.
Nor has the case received any coverage from local TV stations in South Dakota or neighboring Minnesota.
Mohamed was convicted of attempted sexual contact with a person incapable of consent, which is a class 4 felony in South Dakota and punishable by up to five years in prison. The victim is a mentally impaired woman living at a facility operated by a local nonprofit, Aspire Inc. She is unable to fully communicate, said White.
Two police officers and a woman employed with Aspire testified against Mohamed at trial, according to court records.
The incident occurred on July 30, when a caregiver sat the victim on a bench outside so she could enjoy some fresh air, along with one other resident of the home. The caregiver then went back inside to get more residents, and when she returned found Mohamed allegedly with his hand placed between the woman’s legs, reaching for her private parts.
When caught in the act he claimed he wanted to marry the woman.
The worker saw what was happening and pulled the woman away from her assailant.
Mohamed allegedly claimed to authorities that if he were in his country, he’d done nothing wrong.
White said the woman cannot talk, although she is able to say her name and to let caregivers know when she’s hungry.
Aspire provides residential services to approximately 150 people with special needs, according to its website. It is located at 607 North Fourth St., Aberdeen.
“Nothing was in the paper about it, so it doesn’t get out, nobody knows about it,” said an Aberdeen resident who happened to find out about the trial by a stroke of luck.
“A friend of mine, someone who works for her was on jury duty the Monday before Christmas, but they wouldn’t let him on the jury because he said he didn’t like the refugee program,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. “He told my friend about it, and she told me. Wednesday morning, I went straight to the courthouse and they say it’s all over with. The trial is over. He was found guilty.”
“They won’t put this in the paper,” she added. “They have an arrest log for the most minor crimes, even traffic violations, speeding and DUI, but not this.
“If my husband had gotten picked up for attempted rape, his name would have been in there.”
The resident said the town would be shocked to find out a refugee preyed upon a helpless woman sitting outside of a facility that is supposed to be safe.
“I don’t know if he saw them put her out there before. We’re a small town; nothing like that has happened,” the resident said, at least not that anyone is aware of. “It just doesn’t happen. And it was a short time. The caregiver, she just went in to get some more residents, and it happened quickly.”
South Dakota increasingly popular resettlement site
The U.S. State Department and its federal contractor, Lutheran Social Services, have sent 939 Somali refugees to South Dakota since 2002, all of them being placed in Sioux Falls. More than 99 percent of all Somali refugees are Muslim.
More than 132,000 Somali refugees have been sent to more than 300 U.S. cities and towns, most of them arriving since the civil war broke out in the East African country in 1991. More than 40 have been confirmed by the FBI to have left the country since 2007 to fight for foreign terrorist organizations and dozens more have been convicted of providing material support for terrorist organizations.
As recently as Nov. 28, a Somali refugee went on a stabbing spree at Ohio State University, injuring 11. And on Sept. 17 another Somali refugee went on a stabbing spree at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, injuring 10 before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer.
The plans to expand refugee resettlement in Aberdeen have not been without critics. A Facebook group called Americans First Taskforce of Aberdeen, S.D., started last year and has 458 members.
During Christmas week, the Facebook page was alight with comments from posters.
“So will he get sent back to Somalia?” asked Kelly Kimbler.
“Wonder why the public didn’t know about this,” said another post.
It is not the first time a sex crime by a refugee has been ignored or downplayed by local media. Last summer, a 5-year-old special-needs girl was sexually assaulted in Twin Falls, Idaho, by two refugee boys from Sudan, while an older boy filmed the entire incident.
Refugee resettlement watchdog Ann Corcoran, who blogs at Refugee Resettlement Watch, traveled last summer to dozens of meatpacking towns across the U.S. and found they are hot targets for government contractors looking to resettle refugees.
Small cities in the nation’s heartland – the Dakotas, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky – are all magnets for refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria because of the meatpacking companies’ unquenchable thirst for cheap foreign labor.
“In both Aberdeen and Huron, South Dakota, the residents told me the refugees were coming over from Minnesota to work in the meat plant,” Corcoran told WND.
While few refugees are sent directly to Aberdeen, they come as part of what is called a “secondary migration” from Sioux Falls and from several cities in Minnesota.
“Aberdeen is a big secondary migrant location,” Corcoran said. “The mayor wanted to set up a direct resettlement site in Aberdeen but Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota backed off due to the uproar from citizens. The meat plant closed, then reopened and when they reopened [under new ownership] they wanted all these Somali laborers and some came over from Minnesota and some from Sioux Falls.”
What else is being hidden?
Since the case of Liban Mohamed garnered no media attention, residents are wondering how many other crimes by refugees may have been shielded from public view in Aberdeen and Huron.
A Sheriff’s Office employee, named Ryan, confirmed to WND that Mohamed was arrested July 30, 2016, in Aberdeen and remains in custody at the county jail.
“He is currently in custody right now,” he said. WND’s request for a mugshot of Mohamed was denied.
The Clerk of Court’s office confirmed the trial was held Dec. 20 and scheduled for two days, but it lasted only one day before the jury convicted Mohamed as charged. A sentencing hearing has been set for Jan 30 at 4:30 p.m.
The maximum sentence for the crime is five years in prison, White said.
According to court records obtained by WND, Mohamed was arrested July 30 and indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 15. The jury was seated on Monday, Dec. 19, and the trial was held Tuesday, Dec. 20.
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