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Muslims attempt to raise$500,000 bail for imam

The Muslim Community Center is attempting to raise $500,000 for bail for its imam who was convicted earlier this month in the rape of a local girl four years ago.

Yusuf Lateef, of the community center, said members believe that Imam Hisham El-Amin, 53, has been falsely accused of raping the daughter of one of the center s members at various times from June 1, 2000, to Aug. 23, 2001.

El-Amin has been the imam of the Muslim Community Center, 1125 Hamilton St., for at least the last 25 years, members said.

A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury thought differently. El-Amin s trial ended July with convictions on two counts of rape.

El-Amin was indicted on the charges Oct. 10, 2003. The case dragged along after a change of defense attorneys and judges.

Prosecutors said the jury relied on the believability of the 16-year-old victim, who was 12 when the incidents occurred, to find El-Amin guilty.

El-Amin, who is being held in the county jail, will be sentenced Aug. 5 by Judge Gary Cook.

There was absolutely no reason for the child to lie about this, said Lori Olender, a Lucas County assistant prosecutor. She didn t have anything to gain by this.

El-Amin s supporters said the child was in the middle of a custody dispute between her father and mother. The father and El-Amin were best friends as well as leaders in the mosque.

This is a part of an ongoing struggle we ve had in this community, said Imani Lateef, also a member of mosque. This has been difficult, but it has strengthened us to a degree. It has quickened our pace to reach the ultimate goal to get the truth out.

Ms. Olender said the girl testified the rapes occurred while on visits with her father.

She called El-Amin s assertion that the girl made up the story because of the custody battle a stretch, noting that custody already was established and was not an issue.

The girl is now staying with a relative, she said.

Yusuf Lateef said there was an offer on the table that if El-Amin passed a lie detector test the charges would be dropped. He said El-Amin passed a polygraph conducted by private examiner shortly before the trial, but that Ms. Olender reneged on the deal.

Ms. Olender said while a discussion took place about El-Amin taking a polygraph, it was never part of deal. She said El-Amin s polygraph was not administered by the Toledo Police Department or another agency the court uses.

Mr. Lateef said while losing its longtime imam has been difficult for members, the mosque is organizing a drive to appeal the verdict.

El-Amin s attorney, Jeffrey Nunnari, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.

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