By Declan Brennan and Brion Hoban
A teacher in a Dublin mosque who displayed an “unhealthy interest” in a six-year-old girl he went on to molest has received a partially suspended sentence.
Abdur Rashid (aged 50) was convicted last January by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of a single count of sexual assault at the mosque on a date in December 2015.
The former Leitrim resident, later of Blessington Court, Dublin, had denied the charge.
Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Rashid to 18 months imprisonment but suspended the final four months for a period of one year providing he follow the direction of the Probation Services and keep the peace and be of good behaviour upon his release.
Garda Paul Griffin told Pieter LeVert BL, prosecuting, that the child's mother was picking her up from the school when she noticed something was wrong. The child told her mother her teacher had touched her genital area.
The woman confronted Rashid immediately and he indicated he had been teaching the girl wudu, an Islamic ritual procedure for washing parts of the body.
The court heard that after his arrest the married father told gardaí that he had held the girl in his lap and kissed her like he would kiss his own daughter. He denied kissing her with his tongue and denied sexually molesting her.
He claimed because her reading performance was very good he lifted her up to kiss her but she slipped in his hands and he ended up holding her by the thighs.
Asked if he had lost his senses at the time and acted on impulse he told gardaí “I can't say”.
A victim impact report from the girl's mother stated the victim was diagnosed with anxiety after the attack. This caused her to suffer stomach pains which were so severe they caused her to cry.
Damien Colgan SC, defending, said the Bangladesh national had previously lived in Carrick-on-Shannon before moving to Dublin where he worked as a chef.
The court heard that a psychological report stated that Rashid currently meets the diagnostic criteria for Schziophrenia and delusional disorder and is psychologically vulnerable. A further psychiatric report indicated that, at present, he is not suffering from a psychiatric illness.
Judge Codd said Rashid had displayed an “unhealthy interest” in the child before the assault. She said the man was guilty of a “gross exploitation of the innocence of a very young child”.
She said this was an aggravating factor in the case along with the age of the victim, the emotional and psychological effects on her and the abuse of the teacher/student relationship.
Judge Codd said the mitigating factors in the case were the fact that Rashid was psychologically vulnerable, his lack of previous convictions, his having a wife and family, and that his being a Bangladesh national may make his imprisonment more difficult.
She commended the child and her mother for their courage in giving evidence during the trial. She backdated the sentence to January 30, of this year when he first went into custody.