Federal prosecutors say doctor on trial for female genital mutilation is part of secret network

Federal prosecutors say doctor on trial for female genital mutilation is part of secret network
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Federal prosecutors say that a doctor on trial for female genital mutilations is part of a secret network.

Authorities made the disclosure about Jumana Nagarwala during a court hearing on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

According to the newspaper, authorities said Nagarwala was part of a network of physicians in California and Illinois who were performing the practice for years on minors in their Muslim sect, known as the Dawoodi Bohras.

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Federal prosecutor Amy Markopoulos said “this was not a discrete, one-time occasion. ... It was not arbitrary,” according to the newspaper.

Nagarwala was first charged for performing mutilations in 2017 in a historic case brought under a law that criminalized the procedure. She was accused of performing mutilations by girls in Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. 

Two of the victim’s parents told investigators they knew Nagarwala performed the procedure, while other parents denied knowing that she performed the procedure on their daughters.

Also charged at the time were Fakhruddin Attar, his wife Farida Attar and mothers of the alleged victims who brought their daughters to the clinic for the procedures.

Most of the charges against the defendants were cleared in 2018, however, after a federal judge ruled that the country’s 1996 female genital mutilation law was unconstitutional.

A grand jury later indicted Nagarwala and three other co-defendants in March on five new charges related to making false statements and witness tampering. According to the March indictment, the four are accused of lying to federal agents about Nagarwala performing mutilation and instructing others in their community to falsely say that the practice was not being performed.

Defense attorney Mary Chartier has argued that prosecutors are acting in “prosecutorial vindictiveness,” according to the Free Press. “The defense has systematically dismantled the government's case.”

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who previously dismissed the charges in 2018, said he would issue an opinion at a later date on dismissing the new charges.