Afghan refugee convicted for sexual assault of 3-year-old, said it is ok in culture

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted an Afghan national Friday on charges of abusive sexual contact with a 3-year-old girl.

“This case is indicative of law enforcement’s commitment to ensure the safety of immigrant and refugee members of our community,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “People who come to our country seeking haven from tyranny and terrorism deserve to live here in safety. I want to thank the Marines and the FBI for their commitment to upholding that ideal. It is the resilience and courage of the victim and her family in speaking out against this offender that is truly emblematic of the contributions refugees and immigrants make to our country.”

“According to court papers, Tariq tried to explain through interpreters that his conduct was acceptable in his culture. Efforts to have his statements suppressed were rejected by the judge,” ABC news reported.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Mohammed Tariq, 24, engaged in sexual contact with the victim while both the victim and Tariq were housed at Camp Upshur, on Marine Corps Base Quantico, following evacuation from Afghanistan. United States Marines observed the defendant inappropriately touching the victim over her clothing, on her chest, genitals, and buttocks. The victim and Tariq were unrelated, however, both Tariq and the victim and her family had recently been evacuated from Afghanistan and brought to the United States.

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Tariq faces a maximum term of life in prison when sentenced on April 26, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the verdict.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Haynes and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Kramer are prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.

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This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.