An Afghan refugee housed at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine Corps base after he fled the country has been convicted by a federal jury with a sexual assault.
The jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday found Mohammed Tariq, 24, guilty of abusive sexual contact.
Tariq was arrested in September at Camp Upshur in Quantico, Virginia, after Marines observed him fondling the girl, who was not related to him, above her clothes on her private parts.
According to court papers, Tariq tried to explain through interpreters that his conduct was acceptable in his culture. Efforts to have his statements suppressed were rejected by the judge.
Tariq, who was brought to Virginia after working alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is scheduled for sentencing April 26.
“People who come to our country seeking haven from tyranny and terrorism deserve to live here in safety,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica Aber, whose office prosecuted the case, said in a statement Monday announcing the verdict.
A recently-released report from the Marine Corps inspector general’s office laid out much of the challenges, costs and work that Marines assigned to the mission conducted as part of Operation Allies Welcome.
Only one major crime was reported, according to that report, which involved an adult male engaging in an alleged “inappropriate act” with a child. Within 30 minutes of the incident being reported the adult male was detained and turned over to the FBI for processing, the report said. No further details were provided at the time.
“Some Afghans had strong support networks in the United States, including American family members or friends, and chose to leave the safe havens to begin their new lives in the United States with that support,” Maj. Jim Stenger, Headquarters Marine Corps spokesman, previously told Marine Corps Times. “Proper accountability of our Afghan guests was upheld at all times in coordination with our lead federal agency partners at the (Department of Homeland Security) and ultimately led to the successful and timely resettlement of all Afghans housed with Task Force Quantico.”
Todd South contributed to this report.