LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - An Ethiopian immigrant was convicted Wednesday of the genital mutilation of his 2-year-old daughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in what was believed to be the first such criminal case in the United States.
Khalid Adem, 30, was found guilty of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in his family's Atlanta-area apartment in 2001. The child's mother, Fortunate Adem, said she did not discover it until more than a year later.
Adem, who had no criminal record, could have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. He held his face in his hands and wept loudly after the jury's verdict was read.
During her father's trial, the girl, now 7, clutched a teddy bear as she testified on videotape that her father "cut me on my private part."
"This child has suffered, will suffer, the rest of her life," Judge Richard Winegarden told Adem during sentencing.
Federal law specifically bans the practice of genital mutilation, but many states do not have a law addressing it. Georgia lawmakers, with the support of the girl's mother, passed an anti-mutilation law last year. But Adem was not tried under that law since it did not exist when his daughter was cut.
During the trial, Adem testified he never circumcised his daughter or asked anyone else to do so. He said he grew up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and considers the practice more prevalent in rural areas.
Adem's attorney acknowledged that the girl had been cut, but implied that the family of the girl's mother, who immigrated from South Africa, may have been responsible. The Adems divorced three years ago, and attorney Mark Hill suggested that the couple's daughter was coached to testify against her father by her mother, who has full custody of the child.
Adem, who cried throughout the trial and during his testimony, was asked what he thought of someone who believes in the practice. He replied: "The word I can say is 'mind in the gutter.' He is a moron."