FBI Probe Into Female Genital Mutilation Expands Beyond Michigan to New York, California and Illinois

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Jul 24, 2017 3:00 PM
FBI Probe Into Female Genital Mutilation Expands Beyond Michigan to New York, California and Illinois

The FBI's investigation into genital mutilation of girls, some as young as six-years-old, has expanded beyond the original case in Michigan where two doctors were arrested and indicted in April. Girls from Minnesota were taken to Michigan for "treatment" by their parents. A refresher on some of the details

The Department of Justice indicted and arrested Detroit emergency room doctor Jumana Nagarwala on multiple charges Thursday, alleging she performed a number of illegal female genital mutilations (FGM) from 2005 and 2017. Her victims are minor girls, some as young as six years old.

“Despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco said in a statement.  “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”

According to the criminal complaint, Nagarwala performed the illegal and severe procedure in a "medical clinic" outside of the hospital, but did not receive payment and did not bill patients. The FBI classified her as a member of a specific religious community. Girls from neighboring Minnesota, at least one who was seven-years-old, were brought by their parents to Nagarwala for the procedure. They were also interviewed by the FBI and could face charges.

The minors were told they were being taken on a "girls trip." Once they arrived at the hotel, they were told they needed to go the doctor for a "stomach ache" and FGM was performed to "get the germs out."

According to the The Detroit News, a Grand Jury has expanded their inquiry to California, Illinois and New York. 

The grand jury investigation of female genital mutilation has spread to at least three more states as federal agents have identified new targets, according to federal court records.

The targets live in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, according to federal court records and interviews with people close to a criminal case that, until now, was focused solely on conduct involving girls from Michigan and Minnesota.

The developments are the latest in a case that alleges six people participated in a conspiracy to cut prepubescent girls as part of a religious procedure practiced by a small sect of Shia Muslims from India, the Dawoodi Bohra. Central figures in the case are Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville, who is accused of mutilating girls’ genitalia at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, owned by Dr. Fakhruddin Attar.

Federal officials have identified new targets in Los Angeles, Chicago and Minnesota, Nagarwala’s lawyer Shannon Smith wrote in a court filing Tuesday. She believes more people will be charged in federal court.

The News has learned federal agents are investigating at least one other person in New York. One criminal defense lawyer based in New York City declined to comment about the investigation during an interview Monday.

Federal prosecutors estimate as many as 100 girls are victims of the practice in Michigan alone. 

These cases represent the first time in American history the FBI and Department of Justice have gone after indictments and prosecutions for female genital mutilation.