Judge excludes evidence against Elgin cleric charged with sexual abuse
A paper signed by Mohammad Abdullah Saleem and purportedly listing instances of wrongdoing involving an employee won't be admitted in his trial on sexual abuse charges.
Cook County Judge James Karahalios sided with attorneys for Saleem, the founder and former director of the Institute of Islamic Education, a private Elgin school for children in sixth through 12th grade.
Saleem, 76, was charged in February with sexually abusing a 22-year-old former school employee from October 2013 to April 2014.
The "arbitration agreement" also was signed by the former employee and by a third person. Prosecutors say Saleem, of Gilberts, signed the document during a meeting with the accuser and the other person on Nov. 18, 2014, and that it included "a list of all the inappropriate things the defendant had done to her."
Defense attorney Raymond Wigell said the document is an attempt to discredit his client.
"It has no value except to dirty us up," he said after the hearing.
Karahalios also granted Wigell's motion to bar prosecutors from describing the accuser as a "victim."
"Whether she is a victim is for the jury to conclude," he said.
But Karahalios denied Wigell's motion proposing prospective jurors fill out a lengthy questionnaire. He deemed some questions inappropriate because they referred to personal beliefs, rather than a potential juror's ability to be fair and impartial. Karahalios assured Wigell he will have plenty of time to question potential jurors to determine impartiality.
Last month, prosecutors brought new charges against Saleem, a native of India and naturalized U.S. citizen. They claim he abused a former student from 2001 to 2003 when she was from the age 14 to 16.
Saleem pleaded not guilty in both cases. He is free after posting 10 percent of a total bail of $1.25 million. He next appears in court on Friday for a hearing on the new charges.