A judge on Thursday dismissed a felony child abuse charge against a Bismarck man after defense attorneys argued the evidence against him was hearsay and inadmissible, court documents show.
Police in December said Youness Moussaid, 33, struck his stepdaughter with a broomstick because she refused to wear clothing that reflected his religious beliefs. He was charged after Bismarck police were notified by school officials about visible signs of abuse, according to an affidavit.
Assistant Burleigh County State’s Attorney Anna Argenti on Thursday filed a motion to dismiss the charge because “the State does not have in its possession enough evidence to prove the case.” South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland signed an order to dismiss later in the day.
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One of Moussaid’s attorneys, Lucas Wynne of Fargo, said “a great deal of sensationalism” surrounded the case and Moussaid “is glad to have cleared his name.”
The girl was photographed and interviewed during the investigation but “the report is void of any attempt to contact” Moussaid or his wife to obtain permission for the interview, according to a brief filed March 10 by Nicholas Nelson, a second attorney for Moussaid.
Moussaid’s wife was also interviewed, the brief states, but the record in that interview “is void of any reading of Miranda Rights” or explanation that a spouse is not required to testify against one’s spouse.
The statements made by the girl and the woman “are hearsay because they were all made out of court,” Nelson said in the brief, adding that “the statements will not be admissible at trial and should be suppressed.”
Police at the time of the alleged incident said Moussaid wanted the girl to “follow his Muslim beliefs, which includes wearing dress and hijab,” but the girl changed clothes when she got to school. Moussaid was accused of striking the girl, causing several bruises, and of grabbing the girl’s hair and striking her head against a wall, causing a quarter-size bump, an affidavit said. Police said the girl had a large bruise across the top of her right hand and bruises across the front of both thighs that were “consistent with the shape and size” of the broomstick Moussaid allegedly admitted to using, according to the affidavit.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com
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