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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Case vs man accused of fondling tourist is dismissed

The Superior Court bench trial of a marine sports employee accused of fondling a female tourist while they were on a jetski failed to go through yesterday after the Office of the Attorney General moved to dismiss the charges.

Assistant attorney general Barbara Cepeda asked the court to drop the case as the government was not able to bring back the alleged victim, a Chinese national, to Saipan for the trial.

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho granted Cepeda’s motion to dismiss without prejudice the case against Mohammed Sohel, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi national.

Dismissed without prejudice means the prosecution is allowed to refile a new case on the same claim in the future.

Cepeda asked the court to allow the government to use medical records to show injury but Camacho denied this, saying the rules do not allow medical records in this fashion as the Constitution still requires the victim to be present to answer questions.

The case was originally set for jury trial, but the OAG dropped the sexual assault charge against Sohel. That left assault and battery and disturbing the peace as the remaining charges—all misdemeanor offenses.

Police detective Rhonda John stated in her report that a police officer responded to call at a hotel on April 16, 2013, about an assault and battery incident.

John said the alleged victim told police that she was riding a jetski with Sohel sitting behind her when he began fondling her.

The tourist accelerated the jetski then stopped it, causing Sohel to fall into the water. When he got back on the jetski, he allegedly fondled her again, prompting the tourist to throw herself off the jetski.

The alleged victim told Sohel to take her back to shore, where she informed her husband about the incident.

A police officer responded and arrested the suspect.

Sohel pleaded not guilty. Assistant public defender Matthew Meyer served as his lawyer.

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