Johnston police said the mother and her 18-year-old daughter both reported being assaulted by [Nermin] Spahic, 41, during a counseling session at their home last August.
Spahic denies the assault happened. He was charged with third-degree sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation by clergy. Spahic told the jury that as an Imam, he is obligated to perform ceremonies for anyone who believes in God. The healing ceremony, he said, is for protecting someone from evil spirits.
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The testimony follows other defense witnesses Thursday morning including Tone Bringo. As she was questioned by defense attorney Angela Campbell, she described the religious ceremony performed by Spahic as a popular one in Bosnia, where an Imam will rub areas of the body and read versus aloud from the Koran.
Bringo said the aim of it is to send spiritual healing and expel evil spirits. She described it as similar to an exorcism without the negative connotation. She said it was more of deliverance from evil. Bringo said the use of Black Seed Oil is a new phenomenon gaining popularity in Bosnia.
She also said the ceremony would never involve the Imam touching a woman’s breasts, buttocks or genitals. Instead, she said the touching would occur on the forehead, upper chest, possibly the stomach and the hands and feet.
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Prosecutors said the woman brought her daughter to Spahic because of daughter’s depression and hurting herself. They said during the counseling session he would eventually reach under the girl’s shirt and inappropriately touch her and eventually sexually assault her with his fingers. Prosecutors said Spahic did the same thing to the mother.