Allegations Of Child Abuse At Religious School Of Mosque


UPDATED: Wednesday October 23, 2013 11:50 PM

An investigation is underway after teachers at a Westerville school reported allegations of child abuse at a mosque.

Westerville police said the accusations came from children, who are 8, 9, and 10 years old.

A normal day of school at Mark Twain Elementary in Westerville took quite the turn, when several students in a class of mostly Somalis learning English, entered a discussion.

According to a Westerville Police report, the allegations were discovered after children told their teachers about the alleged actions at their religious school, which is part of the Masjid As-Salaamah mosque on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus.

According to the police report, it all started when the teacher said how impressed she was with their knowledge of the Quran.

In response, one of the students told her that, at their religious school, "if they do not learn their religious passages as they are instructed," they are sometimes "chained to a wall by their wrists and ankles and beaten with a long stick."

10TV spoke with a founding board member of the mosque, who said they never knew about any of the allegations until Franklin County Children Services stepped in.

"We understand the seriousness of this," said Mahdi Warsama, Masjid As-Salaamah Board Member.

After an internal investigation involving speaking to teachers and parents, Warsama said, "we couldn't find anything to support these allegations."

The police report states that another student told his teacher he witnessed beatings, was "beaten with a belt on his legs," and saw another student, who "had his head stepped on for complaining of a headache."

"We understand that these are innocent kids. These things cannot happen in our watch," said Warsama. "If there is any merit to these allegations, I assure you, Masjid As-Salaamah will deal with it professionally, and swiftly, and responsibly."

Westerville School says their policy is for teachers to report any allegations of child abuse.  10TV tried to speak with those teachers, but so far they have not responded to the requests.

Westerville School released the following statement: "Given the nature of the information shared by students with their teacher, school officials were obligated to immediately file a report with the authorities, which they did. Those authorities have determined that an investigation is merited."

Columbus police said the investigation is ongoing.

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