Attorney Cynthia Nunez, the guardian of the children of one of the doctors accused of performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls in Michigan, has claimed that a local mosque paid for the surgeries.

The court held a hearing on Tuesday “in which the state is seeking to terminate the parental rights of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, the lead defendant in Detroit’s historic genital cutting case.”

Nagarwala and her attorney Shannon Smith denied Nunez’s allegations.

Detroit Free Press reported:

According to guardian ad litem Cynthia Nunez, the attorney assigned by the court to look out for the best interests of the children, Nagarwala’s husband is the treasurer of the Farmington Hills mosque, and could face criminal charges himself involving allegations that the mosque was paying his wife to perform genital cutting procedures on young girls for years.

Nagarwala’s husband buried his face in his hands and sobbed in court today.

The publication reached out the Dawoodi Bohra sect and received no answer.

Smith told the court that the mosque never provided any money to Nagarwala to perform FGM on little girls. The mosque only gave her money after she bought “food items for the mosque’s food bank program.”

Michigan has tried to take Nagarwala’s parental rights away while she waits for trial. A judge in Wayne County juvenile court “ordered her children be placed into foster care.” The children escaped that fate when Nagarwala’s husband moved out of the house. But Nunez wants him to have supervised visits with the children. Detroit Free Press continued:

An attorney for the father argued the man didn’t need state supervision and that he should be allowed to freely visit his children. The lawyer said the father is no threat to the children and that it’s in their best interest to see him as often as possible to avoid experiencing more trauma.

Wayne County Judge Frank Szymanski agreed to let the father see the children unsupervised for the time being. The Nagarwala children are among several minors who face the threat of being taken away from their parents as a result of the federal investigation.

The Dawoodi Bohra Sect

The state removed other children in families within this sect, including three children on the day of the hearing “over allegations that a 14-year-old girl was subjected to a genital cutting procedure.” Attorney Deanna Kelley stated that the doctor, in this case, is not Nagarwala.

But the case involving Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, and his wife Farida Attar has brought attention to other possible cases:

So far, authorities have identified at least eight alleged genital mutilation victims, including two Minnesota girls and four metro Detroit girls ages 7-11. They live in Troy, West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills and Livonia and are at risk of being placed into foster care if the state strips their parents of their parental rights.

Defense lawyers have argued that taking the children away from their parents would only subject them to more trauma. They’ve also argued that the children at issue have thrived under the care of their parents, and that there’s no justifiable reason to take them away.

All three defendants accused of trying to cover up their actions and instructing others in the Bohra community to lie to authorities about the procedure, or say nothing.

The government has argued that all three defendants knew what they were doing was illegal, but did it anyway.

Michigan officials have interviewed and examined numerous girls for FGM due to this investigation.

The Victims

Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward claimed that as many as 100 girls underwent FGM by Nagarwala and the Attars. Woodward insisted that the Minnesota girls that spurred the investigation “were not the first victims.” From Detroit Free Press:

Against Woodward’s wishes, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman granted bond to two other defendants in the case: Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, of Farmington Hills, who is accused of letting Nagarwala use his clinic to perform genital cutting procedures on minor girls; and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, who is accused of holding the girls’ hands during the procedure to keep them from squirming and to calm them.

The government believes the three defendants, all members of a local Indian-Muslim sect, subjected numerous girls to genital cutting procedures over a 12-year period. To date, the government says it has identified eight victims — including the two Minnesota girls — though Woodward said the government estimates there could be as many as 100 victims. She said that’s a conservative estimate, and that it’s based on Dr. Attar’s alleged admission to authorities that he let Nagarwala use his clinic up to six times a year to treat children for genital rashes.