THE former imam of Wellingborough mosque has been convicted of sexually abusing two girls while privately teaching them passages of the Koran.
Abdul Matin, 41, was found unanimously guilty of seven sexual assault charges at Northampton Crown Court today having told a jury he was the victim of a conspiracy.
The imam, who resigned last year, was accused of sexually touching two girls, who cannot be named, kissing them and putting his hands inside their clothing during religious lessons.
Rebecca Herbert, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was a tutor in the Koran and from about 2007 to 2010, he visited child A’s home address several times a week to tutor her in the Koran.
“During these times and at various other times, both girls mentioned to one or other of their parents that the defendant was physically affectionate with them.
“They said they did not like it and did not really want to have their lessons with him.
“During the summer of 2010, the lessons came to an end by mutual agreement, but it would seem it was due to their ages, not for reasons concerning the defendant’s behaviour.
“The defendant, being an imam, was respected and highly regarded by all but you, the jury, may feel it would have been hard for these two young Muslim girls to have spelt out what was happening. Sexual matters are simply not discussed.
“The lessons finished in 2010, but things came to light because during the autumn term at school, child A watched a video about bullying and as she watched, she saw a section which talked about sexual abuse, along the lines that people should not touch you in a certain way and if they did, you were to tell someone. As a result, she spoke to one of her teachers on November 2, 2010.”
When Matin was arrested he denied any sexual abuse had taken place.
Mrs Herbert added: “Child A accused the defendant of frequently putting his hand down her top and squeezing her breast area. On one occasion, she remembered he forced her to sit on his lap.
“Child B remembered when she was about seven, he touched her by putting his hand down her burka and ‘bits he should not supposed to touch’. She recalled it happened twice and said she knew similar things had happened to child A. She said the defendant told them not to tell anyone.”
Matin, of Albert Road, Wellingborough, speaking through a Bengali interpreter, said the allegations were part of a conspiracy against him by the children’s families.
He said the two girls had threatened to make up false sexual allegations against him to stop him telling their parents they were not concentrating or behaving in the religious lessons.
He added: “One (of the children) said that if you tell my father then I will say that you did this and that, that you touched us. We will go to the police and to the school.
“Then they said sorry and I thought that was the end of it.
“I was upset I teach children who could say something like that.”
The jury took two-and-a-half hours’ deliberation to unanimously convict him of all charges.
Adjourning sentence for reports and granting bail, Judge Michael Fowler said: “Given the breach of trust, the age of the children and the period over which it happened, there is the potential for a custodial sentence.
“Indeed, when coming back to court, he should prepare himself for custody.”
The court heard the allegations had divided the Muslim community in Wellingborough and had resulted in the victims and their families being shunned at the town’s mosque.