Doctor jailed 3 years wants perjury charges for sex-assault accuser

Aug. 28, 2011

By L.L. Brasier

…Nouri, 40, served more than three years behind bars, convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman who worked in his medical office.

He got out of prison after prosecutors learned in April that the woman and her boyfriend lied repeatedly on the witness stand when they said she was a virgin, a central issue in the case.

Nouri, who maintains his innocence, is now reunited with his wife and four children. He’s back practicing as an orthopedic surgeon.

And he’s on a mission: Nouri is trying to get his accuser charged with perjury.

“She took three years from me,” he said. “I can never get them back. My youngest daughter was a baby when I went away. I never saw her first step, heard her say her first word. It’s my turn for justice.”…

…Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who dropped felony charges against Nouri and sought his release from prison when she learned of the perjury, said she is awaiting police reports before deciding whether to file any charges against the woman.

“We moved heaven and earth to get him out immediately when we learned of this,” Cooper said…

…Nouri, a Chaldean who emigrated from Iraq in 2003, had a thriving medical practice in Hazel Park and Sterling Heights, often treating other Chaldeans in the tight-knit community. The married father was vice president of the church council at St. Toma Syriac Catholic Church in Farmington Hills.

In late May 2007, one of Nouri’s Chaldean patients asked whether Nouri would hire his 19-year-old daughter, who was working at a video store. Nouri and his wife, Rouwaida Nouri, who managed his medical practice, agreed to hire her for two days a week to help with filing in their Hazel Park office.

On June 22, 2007, her sixth day of work, the woman alleged Nouri assaulted her in an exam room after hours, violating her with his fingers and touching her breasts and buttocks…

…The woman’s parents took her to police and to a hospital. She refused to allow a rape exam, saying she was a virgin and such an exam would “un-virginize me,” records show. A later external exam at a clinic run by Haven, a nonprofit that offers support to sexual assault victims, showed a tiny tear measuring less than half a centimeter.

Nouri was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for the alleged touching…

…From the beginning, defense attorneys contended the woman, who lived in Sterling Heights with her parents, fabricated the story because she had been sexually active and needed to explain why she was no longer a virgin.

Virginity is highly valued in the conservative Chaldean Catholic Church. During Nouri’s trial, defense attorneys presented a gynecologist who said he was frequently asked by Chaldean families to examine daughters on the eve of their weddings to verify their virginity. Sometimes, weddings were called off if a woman was found to not be a virgin.

Nouri’s accuser was asked on the witness stand about her virginity.

“In those reports at the hospital and to the police and at Haven, you went to great lengths, just as you have in this courtroom this morning, to tell everyone that on June 22, 2007, you were a virgin, is that correct?” defense attorney David Griem asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“You went out of your way to tell everyone that you were a virgin. What was your purpose for doing that?” Griem asked.

She responded, “That would be why, when I had the trauma down there — it was due to what he did.”

When asked why being a virgin was important to Chaldean women, she said, “If she is not a virgin, once she does get married, the community thinks of her as being promiscuous. They will not accept her into a man’s family. They expect her to be pure.”

Her boyfriend was called as a prosecution witness, and he also insisted they had never had sex.

The trial lasted five days. Nouri didn’t take the stand in his own defense, and his attorneys later admitted they didn’t fully explain he had the right to do so — a point brought up in his post-conviction appeals.

Initially, the jury was hung, with jurors twice asking to review the accuser’s testimony. On July 2, 2008, they found Nouri guilty…

…From the time the allegations were made, it would be three and a half years before Nouri and his attorneys learned the accuser and her boyfriend had lied repeatedly.

During that time, as his attorneys fought to overturn his conviction, Nouri remained incarcerated.

He was repeatedly assaulted by fellow prisoners — his nose broken and his teeth cracked. He was hospitalized for three days and received stitches to his face, according to a federal lawsuit filed against Oakland County…

…In late 2010, Kriger — Nouri’s appellate attorney — was filing motions to get the conviction overturned. One day, he heard a shocking rumor.

The accuser’s boyfriend had spotted Nouri’s wife and four children in the community and was suddenly overcome with guilt for lying about his sexual history with the woman.

When Kriger contacted the man, he learned he and the accuser had been sexually active for months leading up to the allegation and had since broken up. Kriger asked the man to secretly record conversations with the woman. The man met with her in March, and while recording their conversation, he told her he was worried private investigators were looking into the perjury.

The accuser, according to Kriger and prosecutors who have heard the recording, admits she lied on the stand but instructs the man to keep denying it if he’s questioned.

She tells him that if authorities discover credit card receipts showing she was at local motels, she will say she lent the card to a friend. She also discusses feigning a mental breakdown so she would be hospitalized, a tactic she says she hopes would discourage a continued investigation.

Kriger took the recording to prosecutors in April. Prosecutors, noting Nouri had been convicted, offered a deal: If he pleaded no contest to a low-level misdemeanor assault — with no probation-reporting requirements and no restrictions on obtaining his medical license — he could be free within hours and get it expunged after five years.

It took Nouri, who was sitting in a prison cell at the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula, two days to agree.

“I’m thinking, ‘No, I didn’t do anything,’ ” he recalled in a recent interview, as his wife wiped away tears. “But then I think, ‘I take this and I can see my kids in a day or two.’ I hadn’t seen them in three years. I took it.”

Meanwhile, his accuser has become a licensed practical nurse.

Her attorney, Edward Bajoka, declined to discuss the accusations of perjury and said he was unaware of the forged letter. He said his client insists she was attacked by Nouri.

“She does maintain that she was sexually assaulted,” he said.

Read more at Detroit Free Press.