An attorney for a Des Moines Islamic leader charged with sexual abuse and exploitation is asking a judge to drop two of the charges, arguing that they violate the man’s religious freedom.
Spahic faces one count of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. He was arrested in August after a 42-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter told police that Spahic sexually assaulted them during a religious ceremony.
Iowa law spells out that counselors and therapists are barred from “sexual conduct” with patients. But because Spahic never had a formal relationship with the two women, using his religious position to charge him should be unconstitutional, Campbell argued in the motion.
“The ceremony he was performing was not psychotherapy, nor was it counseling,” the motion said. “The sexual exploitation charges are therefore necessarily based on his religious identity and the religious nature of his relationships to the accusers.”
So what did Spahic’s religious counseling involve?
The woman on Aug. 12 called Spahic to her house in Johnston for help with her daughter, who reportedly suffered personal issues, including depression and drug use, police and court papers said. Spahic allegedly performed an Islamic ceremony that involved “chanting and rubbing the body with oil,” court papers said.
In one section of the sealed minutes of evidence, prosecutors “inappropriately refer to Mr. Spahic as a ‘Voodoo priest,’” according to the motion. At the time of his arrest Spahic served as the imam – a leader of Islamic prayer services – at the Des Moines Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak on Lower Beaver Road.
That’s not the only thing inappropriate about that story. But I think Voodoo priests are right to be offended by that one. Still if Muslims have the religious freedom to
1. Promote the mass murder of non-Muslims
2. Donate money to terrorist groups
3. Subvert national security
… why not sexual abuse?