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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2009

Sex charge against backer of youth theater dropped

Muhammad Muhammad

Once shackled by accusations that he had sexual contact with a girl involved in his theater group for at-risk youths, Washington Muhammad left Lucas County Common Pleas Court this week a free man.

Mr. Muhammad, 45, of 730 Boston Pl. had been charged with one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in June after he was accused of having sexual contact with a girl who was 13 at the time. Judge Stacy Cook dismissed the charge Tuesday at the request of the prosecutor's office.

"This was not true," attorney Ronnie Wingate said of the allegation. "He has steadfastly maintained his innocence and thankfully now he will be vindicated."

Mr. Muhammad had been involved in Self-Expression Teen Theatre for several years. Formed more than 20 years ago, the group aids central-city youth by having them perform skits that dramatize choices regarding drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.

Mr. Muhammad drove a van for the theater group, but he has been referred to as the group's leader in the past.

He declined to comment after the hearing.

The dismissal came about after additional information was discovered subsequent to the allegations being filed against his client, Mr. Wingate said. "Upon further investigation, some of the specifics of the allegation were not and could not be corroborated," he said.

The charge was based on an allegation by the teenage girl that there had been sexual contact over a period of several months.

Assistant County Prosecutor Jeff Lingo told Judge Cook families involved had been notified of the decision. He said "serious evidentiary concerns" led to dismissal of the case, acknowledging specifics of the allegation could not be verified. Mr. Lingo said that the prosecutor's office maintained the right to refile the case if evidence dictates moving forward.

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