An Imam with the Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse.
Johnston police say 40-year-old Nermin Spahic is charged with third degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by a therapist or counselor.
“I was really shocked when I found out,” says Nermina Mehinbasic of Des Moines.
Mehinbasic says she was surprised when she heard what the Islamic Center’s head religious leader is accused of.
She attends a different Islamic Center in Des Moines but still has ties to the Bosnik Center.
“My little brother had gone to that Islamic Center and just the amount of kids that attend that Mosque and their parents trust they`re in good hands when they go there so I was extremely shocked,” says Mehinbasic.
Johnston Police say Nermin Spahic is a Muslim Imam, and that his alleged crimes happened outside of the Bosniak Center.
They say he was visiting a 42-year-old woman who was seeking religious council for her 18-year-old daughter.
Both women told police Spahic performed a ceremonial ritual on them. It was during that ceremony, they say Spahic sexually assaulted them.
Police found about the alleged crime by a tip.
“The victim had sent a text message to the friend a friend of hers and the friend had actually contacted us and made the call,” says Sgt. Tyler Tompkins.
When officers got to the alleged victims’ house, they found the mother, the daughter, and Spahic who was still there.
“We detained him at the house brought him back to the police station, did interviews here and subsequently arrested him from our investigation,” says Sgt. Tompkins.
Mehinbasic says when Spahic came to town he was well-respected leader.
She says if he’s found guilty, his reputation and the trust of the Bosnian Community will be gone.
“It is embarrassing because the family had expected help for the daughter to get her in a better place, he never should have abused his powers and he should have been a better role model. I feel like our religion is so private that they try to keep this away from people where we need to take this as a learning experience and doesn`t happen again,” says Mehinbasic.
Police say Spahic admitted to the ceremony, but denied that anything inappropriate occurred.