Detroit — The grand jury investigation into female genital mutilation has spread to at least three more states as federal agents have identified new targets in the case, 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 an investigation that, until now, was focused on conduct involving girls from Michigan and Minnesota.
The developments are the latest in a case alleging 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. A central figure in the case is Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville, who is accused of mutilating girls’ genitalia at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia.
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 Detroit 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.
The most recent indictment in the case alleges six girls were mutilated – including four from Michigan.
“There is also absolutely no evidence to support the government’s statement that Dr. Nagarwala cut the genitals of dozens of victims,” Smith wrote. “When the government makes claims like it ‘estimates’ that Dr. Nagarwala performed (female genital mutilation) on at least 100 minor girls, the government is unable to support the assertion and certainly has provided no discovery to support the claim.”
Some members of the Dawoodi Bohra community who have spoken against the procedure said genital mutilation is performed to suppress female sexuality, reduce sexual pleasure and curb promiscuity, according to court records. Female genital mutilation has been a federal crime in the U.S. since 1996.
A Northville doctor charged with mutilating the genitalia of 7-year-old girls will stay behind bars pending trial to prevent her from fleeing the country, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville is a flight risk because she is facing charges that could send her to federal prison for the rest of her life and because she has ties overseas, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said.
Nagarwala, a U.S. citizen and mother of four children with family in India and Africa, is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 10 with five others in the nation’s first federal case involving female genital mutilation.
Wherever there are Muslim girls in the U.S., there are very likely FGM victims.