Dr. Jumana Nagarwala to be released on $4.5 million bond while awaiting FGM trial

Supporters raise money for doctor's release in female genital mutilation case

DETROIT – Dr. Jumana Nagarwala will be released from federal custody this week on a $4.5 million bond while she awaits trial on female genital mutilation charges.

Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, is charged with female genital mutilation and conspiracy.

Her bond was raised by supporters. She won't be released until later this week. 

READ: Dr. Jumana Nagarwala fired by Henry Ford amid female genital mutilation case

She originally was denied bond because a judge considered her to be a flight risk. However, on Tuesday Nagarwala's attorneys offered this new $4.5 million bond proposal which was accepted by the judge. 

If Nagarwala violates the terms of her bond or fails to appear for court, she and her husband would face the forfeiture of their Northville home and the 17 individuals who are guaranteeing her bond would be required to satisfy the remainder of the bond.

An attorney for Nagarwala admitted to her doing the procedures, but she insists that it is nothing more than a religious practice for Muslim families and that she has done nothing wrong.

The $4.5 million bond is believed to be the largest ever set in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan.

Arrested in April

Nagarwala was arrested April 12 and detained April 17. Henry Ford Health System said she was placed on administrative leave April 13. 

The hospital system released this statement: 

"We were shocked by the allegations. The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility. We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.  The doctor has immediately been placed on administrative leave."

On April 27, she was terminated from her position as an emergency department physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. 

Several others charged in FGM case

Nagarwala is charged alongside Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar. Several other employees were charged in connection with the illegal procedures.

All six defendants were due in court for a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

The defense made multiple attempts to try to make it appear the Attars had nothing to do with the so-called "cuttings." The Attars claimed it was Nagarwala who did the medical procedures and performed the "closely held and time-honored religious practice."

Female genital mutilation: What is it, cultural and social factors

Federal officials made their case by acknowledging they set up a full-scale surveillance on the doctors and the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia after receiving a tip about FGM. They even installed a live camera on a telephone pole outside the clinic.

Officials said for the past 12 years, Fakhruddin Attar allowed his clinics to host FGM procedures done by Nagarwala and assisted by his wife. They said they phoned and texted each other, telling each other to deny any FGM and plotting strategy.

MOREFGM a serious problem in United States

Federal officials said one of the children picked Farida Attar and Nagarwala out of a picture lineup. One of the girls admitted she screamed in pain during the procedure and was told to be quiet about her so-called "girls' weekend."

Unprecedented charges

This case is unprecedented in the U.S. According to the United States code, "whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both."

Here are the Congressional Findings

“(1) the practice of female genital mutilation is carried out by members of certain cultural and religious groups within the United States;
“(2) the practice of female genital mutilation often results in the occurrence of physical and psychological health effects that harm the women involved;
“(3) such mutilation infringes upon the guarantees of rights secured by Federal and State law, both statutory and constitutional;
“(4) the unique circumstances surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation place it beyond the ability of any single State or local jurisdiction to control;
“(5) the practice of female genital mutilation can be prohibited without abridging the exercise of any rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution or under any other law; and
“(6) Congress has the affirmative power under section 8 of article I, the necessary and proper clause, section 5 of the fourteenth Amendment, as well as under the treaty clause, to the Constitution to enact such legislation.”

MORE: Female genital mutilation a serious problem in United States

Investigation involves 2 girls from Minnesota

Court documents said Nagarwala's phone records revealed several phone calls to a family in Minnesota with a girl who just turned 7 years old. According to officials, the Minnesota family is part of the religious community in Minnesota that practices FGM.

Officials said the phone was tracked on Feb. 3 from Minnesota to Michigan. Someone used the phone that evening via a tower in Farmington Hills near multiple hotels, officials said. The phone was traced back to Minnesota on Feb. 4, officials said.

Investigators said surveillance video from Feb. 3 at a hotel in Farmington Hills showed two adult women and two young girls checking into two rooms. Officials believe that the two young girls were victims of FGM performed by Nagarwala.

"The allegations detailed in today’s criminal complaint are disturbing," FBI special agent in charge David Gelios said. "The FBI, along with its law enforcement partners, are committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure."

Investigators interviewed the two girls, who identified Nagarwala as the doctor who performed operations on them during a trip. They said their mother told them it was a "special" girls' trip, officials said. The girls told investigators that they were told by Nagarwala and their parents not to talk about the procedure.

One of the girls said she left a winter glove in the medical office. Officials executed a search warrant on Monday and found the glove in the medical clinic. Officials said the glove had the girl's first name written on it.

Investigators said doctors performed examinations on the young girls and found that FGM had been performed on them.

Other potential victims from Michigan

"The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community," HSI special agent in charge Steve Francis said. "My sincere hope is that these charges will give support to those who have allegedly suffered both physically and emotionally."

The investigation has identified other children who might have been victimized by Nagarwala between 2005 and 2007, including children in Michigan, officials said.

Child Protective Services personnel and FBI agents on Monday interviewed several young girls in Michigan who said procedures matching the description of FGM had been performed on them by Nagarwala.

Officials said some of the children's parents denied knowledge of the procedures, while others said they knew that Nagarwala had performed the procedures.

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About the Authors:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.