A 17-year-old Portland girl who summoned the courage last year to call 911 to report being sexually abused told a judge Friday she was angry her molester was convicted.
The girl repeated her testimony at trial: She had never been molested and had lied to investigators.
But the judge wasn’t buying it, having found two months ago that the girl was the product of intense pressure from family and others in her Somali American community not to speak out.
In an emotional hearing Friday, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Leslie Roberts sentenced the molester — 46-year-old Hassan Mohamedhaji Noor — to 12 ½ years in prison.
“There is no point in arguing that it didn’t happen,” said Roberts, directing her comments to the girl and an audience of more than 30 Noor supporters. Some cried as Noor was sentenced.
After the four-day trial in December, the judge found Noor guilty of sexually abusing three girls in his tight-knit immigrant community, which numbers about 8,000 in Portland.
In the spring, victims told police and later a grand jury that Noor had asked them to give him leg massages, then directed them to work their way up to his genitals. They ranged in age from 11 to 16 years at the time of the abuse.
The girls also had explained how unsupportive their mothers, fathers, aunts or other adults had been after they confided in them about the abuse. The girls said those trusted adults warned them that if they reported the abuse to police, no one would believe them and no one would want to marry them. The adults also told them it was up to Allah to decide Noor’s guilt, not a court of law, investigators said.
In the months leading up to trial, two of Noor’s victims recanted. The third — who stuck by her story — testified her parents had disowned her.
A fourth young woman also testified that she’d been disowned for coming forward about Noor’s abuse of her. She was allowed to testify, even though the statute of limitations had already passed and Noor couldn’t be convicted of molesting her.
Friday, prosecutor Amber Kinney told the judge that despite the 17-year-old’s recantation, she admires her for calling 911 to stop Noor.
“I have never met a stronger woman than when I met her at grand jury,” Kinney said. “She had no independence, yet she knew what was right. And she fought for what was right.”
Kinney said the hardest part for the victims wasn’t coming forward with their reports. Instead, it was the campaign of “suppression” from Noor and the people around them, Kinney said.
Friday, the 17-year-old girl sat next to Kinney, less than 10 feet from Noor. She said she didn’t appreciate the prosecutor’s statement. She repeatedly insisted she wasn’t an abuse victim but acknowledged she has been through a lot.
“Ever since this happened, I’ve been forced to grow up. I’m 17, and I feel 35,” she said.
Noor crinkled his face, frowned and cried during the hearing. But he declined to make any statements.
During recorded police interrogations, Noor defended himself by saying he couldn’t have done such terrible things because he is a religious man who prays five times a day.
Oregon law allowed the judge to sentence Noor to as few as 6 ¼ years in prison and as many as 70 years.
Kinney asked the judge for 25 years. Kinney said Noor still claims he’s innocent, which makes him unlikely to benefit from sex-offender treatment. A presentence investigator — who delved into Noor’s life history and mindset — determined Noor was at high risk of offending again, Kinney said.
Noor’s defense attorney, Christopher McCormack, asked for 6 ¼ years. He said Noor has done a lot of good as a hard-working father of six.
“He’s not a monster,” McCormack told the judge. “He’s a kind person who has won the hearts of the Somali community.”
Noor immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago. He was working full-time as a Lyft driver at the time of his arrest, according to court papers.
Noor’s wife spoke, saying life without her husband has been tough. She then started to scream “Please! Please!” at the top of her lungs, before collapsing onto the courtroom floor in tears, where she lay for a minute.
In sentencing Noor to 12 ½ years, the judge said she was not giving him a lighter sentence than the prosecutor had asked out of lack of confidence in her verdict. Rather, Roberts said, she thought the sentence would be adequate in protecting society.
The judge also acknowledged that a defendant’s crimes affect a larger number of people than the victims. The harm “ripples out in concentric circles through a family” and “throughout a community,” the judge said.
Source:- The Oregonian