Islamic cleric pleads guilty to sexual assault of a student

- A nationally renowned Islamic leader pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing a girl who attended his Elgin school for more than two years.

Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, 77, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse during a hearing Thursday, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He will be required to sere two years of probation as a sex offender and must register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

The victim began attending the Institute of Islamic Education in August 2001 when she was 14, according to prosecutors. Saleem founded the school in 1989 as a full-time residential educational institution for students in 6-12.

About one month later, Saleem requested the girl visit him in his office once a week, prosecutors said. During the visits, Saleem would force the girl to sit on his lap, touch and fondle her in a sexual manner, and give her gifts, including a gold necklace and cash.

The abuse continued until September 2003, when the victim moved out of state to finish high school, prosecutors said. In December 2014 the victim disclosed details of the abuse to a witness, who contacted Elgin police, who were already investigating Saleem for similar crimes.

Judge Joseph Cataldo set bond at $1 million Wednesday at a hearing in Rolling Meadows. He is next scheduled to appear in court Oct. 29.

In February, Saleem was charged with criminal sexual abuse after a 23-year-old woman accused him of sexual misconduct while they worked together at the school.

Later in February, the same woman and three former female students of the institute filed a civil lawsuit alleging they were sexually abused by Saleem as children.

Saleem turned himself in to Elgin police in October 2015, authorities said.

He has also been ordered to have no contact with the school or have any contact with unrelated females younger than 18 without another adult present, prosecutors said. Saleem is also banned from possessing or watching pornography.

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