Stoke & Staffordshire

Imam denies Stoke-on-Trent mosque rape charges

A Muslim worship leader raped a young boy on numerous occasions as he attended a mosque for religious lessons, a court has heard.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, of Sheffield, is alleged to have assaulted the boy at a mosque in Capper Street, Stoke-on-Trent, where he worked as the Imam.

He is also charged with the attempted rape of another boy.

Mr Khan denies three counts of rape, four of attempted rape and one of sexual activity with a child.

All the charges are alleged to have taken place on various dates between 1 July, 2009 and 16 October, 2009.

Prosecuting, Tariq Bin Shakoor told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court that Mr Khan's job was to lead prayers and to give Islamic education lessons to boys who attended evening classes.

Prayer mat

He said that in police interviews, the first boy said he was singled out by Mr Khan, of Owler Road, following evening prayer on about six occasions, the first of which was around August 2009.

"The defendant would request him to lay out his red prayer mat in a different part of the mosque," he said.

"That is when the remaining prayer would be completed individually and not in congregation."

He told the jury the alleged victim seemed to suggest the defendant would take him through a door marked "private", into a sitting room area, and then into a room with cushions on the floor which was used by committee members.

On occasions, they would then go through another door into a classroom, going to a corner at the back.

The prosecutor said the defendant chose different places within the mosque, not covered by CCTV cameras. Another area was near the building's bins.

"He (the boy) said once it happened by the bins downstairs. That, he recalled was the first time," he said.

In October 2009, when the youngster told his father about the incidents, concerns were raised about another boy as he had become reluctant to attend the mosque after spending the night at Mr Khan's home.

In police interviews, the first boy said his family trusted the defendant and that he had a "strong following".

"Such was that following that people would be prepared to die for him," the prosecutor said. He had an "enormous amount of respect and authority, particularly within the Muslim community".

The trial has been adjourned until Thursday.

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