Federal U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedmanon has thrown out the nation’s first female genital mutilation case, concluding that the prosecution was vindictive in seeking new charges against the accused, who had previously persuaded the judge to declare the federal female genital mutilation ban as unconstitutional and delivering a major blow to the prosecution and survivors in the Detroit case, reports USA Today. The lead defendant is Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, whom prosecutors allege cut the genitals of nine minor girls during after-hours procedures at a Livonia, Michigan clinic that belonged to her doctor friend, who also was charged in the case.
Nagarwala has long denied engaging in genital mutilation, saying the procedure she performed on minor girls was a benign religious practice that involved only scraping or “shaving” of the genitalia, not cutting. Among the accused were three mothers, including two Minnesota women whom prosecutors said tricked their 7-year-old daughters into thinking they were coming to metro Detroit for a girls’ weekend, but instead had their genitals cut at the Livonia clinic as part of a religious procedure. The case was set to go to trial in April 2019 on a single obstruction charge, but COVID-19 hit and the prosecution came to a halt. Since then, the government issued its fourth superseding indictment that includes five new charges, including conspiracy to make false statements and witness tampering. Prosecutors allege that Nagarwala and her three cohorts lied to the FBI about female genital mutilation that was going on in their community, and instructed others in their religious community to do the same if the FBI came asking questions.