The Gazette typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.
After sipping from a drink in a stranger’s apartment, the woman blacked out.
When she awoke hours later, it was in her own bed, and she lay in a pool of her own blood and fecal matter – the result of a sexual assault so violent, police say she could have died without medical help.
An El Paso County jury on Tuesday heard an overview of the Colorado Springs woman’s July 2012 ordeal as a trial began for Sarmad Fadhi “Levi” Mohammed, one of five Iraqi immigrants implicated in the attack.
All were recently brought to the U.S. with the help of military members after assisting U.S. troops in Iraq, either as translators or intelligence sources.
Accused of forcing the woman, who is in her 50s, to perform oral sex as she lay dazed or unconscious on a couch, the 26-year-old Mohammed is charged with sexual assault and faces the potential of life in prison if convicted.
During opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors Mike Allen told a jury that while Mohammed didn’t injure the woman, he is responsible for concocting a cover story for Colorado Springs police to hide the identity of the man who did.
“Why did he do that?” Allen asked after pointing a finger at the defendant. “To protect his friend, Jasim Ramadon, and to protect himself.”
Ramadon, 21, is accused of using his hand to violate the woman, inflicting severe injuries. He is awaiting trial on sexual assault charges. Three other men accused of perpetuating the cover story have since been convicted of misdemeanors – one after a partial mistrial, two as a result of plea bargains.
Defense attorneys say Mohammed played no part in the attack – only that he briefly displayed his genitals as part of a running gag among the group of friends, all in their 20s.
According to attorney Eric Anaya, Mohammed wasn’t even paying attention as Ramadon was flirting with the woman over drinks until their physical activity grew sexually explicit – at which point he kicked Ramadon out.
When Mohammed and his roommates were summoned to the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center the next morning, Mohammed assumed it was about a fight that occurred the same night, and told his friends to lie about the circumstances, Anaya said. It wasn’t until his interrogation by detectives that he learned of the woman’s injuries, the attorney said.
“He told the truth about what was going on and he did so as soon as he found out,” said Anaya, who took a skeptical view of the woman’s claim to police she was drugged, implying she was actually drunk.
According to pretrial hearings, Ramadon appears poised to blame Mohammed for inflicting the injuries.
His trial has been held up while the Colorado Court of Appeals considers an appeal filed by prosecutors seeking to overturn a ruling by 4th Judicial District Judge Theresa Cisneros that tossed out evidence in Ramadon’s case.
The disputed evidence includes videotaped statements by Ramadon that Cisneros ruled were inappropriately obtained by Colorado Springs police.
Ramadon, who also goes by the name Jay Hendrex, was brought to the United States from Iraq in 2004 through the help of Fort Carson soldiers for whom he acted as an informant. His story of coming to the country is detailed in the book “A Soldier’s Promise,” by Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Hendrex.
Mohammed’s trial is expected to last up to two weeks.
Defense attorneys in the case have said the men’s names and pictures have been circulated among jihadist websites, and say the men could be killed if they are deported as a result of the case.
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