Houston Islamic Religious Leader Arrested For Alleged Sexual Assault And Indecency With Children

Fort Bend County Officials believe there are more victims than the four who have come forward.

Mohamed Omar Ali, 59, was arrested January 3, 2020.

A Muslim religious leader is accused of indecency and sexual assault of children in Fort Bend County.

Imam Mohamed Omar Ali is charged with three counts of indecency with a child and one count of sexual assault of a child, according to Fort Bend County officials.

Ali, who immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia, was arrested on January 3, 2020.

“We do believe that he's been in several of the victim's homes,” said Michael Alexander, lead detective of the case for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office. “That's part of what he does, he goes to people's homes and teaches Quran lessons and that's how he comes into contact with a lot of people is through some of the mosques and then he eventually goes to their homes.”

Assaults allegedly started in 2013 and officials believe there are more victims who are afraid to come forward because of the stigma.

“The investigation originally started off a little bit slow due to a lack of cooperation from some of the victims, because of that stigma, moving forward we did find that there are some people willing to come forward, which is why we are here,” said Alexander.

Ali spent time as a religious leader in multiple mosques in Houston and Fort Bend County, although officials wouldn't specify which locations.

The 59-year-old is being held at a Fort Bend County jail and also faces deportation.

In a written statement, Zach Hiner, Executive Director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said, “This story is a reminder that sexual violence is an issue in all faith traditions and institutions and is especially a danger when powerful men are placed in positions of trust and authority over vulnerable children and adults.”

Hiner said this is a common story in religious communities across the country.

“Even though Mohammad Ali was not an official employee of Fort Bend area mosques, his reputation as an expert on the Quran helped him gain the trust of adults which he then abused in order to hurt the children he was hired to teach,” he said, and applauded the survivors of Ali who came forward.

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Elizabeth Trovall

Elizabeth Trovall

Immigration Reporter

Elizabeth Trovall is an immigration reporter for Houston Public Media. She joined the News 88.7 team after several years abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she reported on business, energy, politics and culture. Trovall's work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, Latino...

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