Somali refugee Mohammed Ali Mohammed raped and robbed two women at knifepoint when he was 14 years old over two consecutive nights in 2011. On Wednesday, Mohammed was sentenced only to probation. He had already served six years in a juvenile detention center.

Speaking in court on Monday, Mohammed admitted that he “was a monster” and said, “I didn’t know what I was thinking. I was a very stupid kid.” He pleaded guilty to rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping in 2012.

“There is nothing that I could say or do that could restore what I did to them,” Mohammed told the court. “The only way I can show them I’ve changed is how I live my life.” His mohter, Zahra Mohammed -- who is also a refugee -- refused to believe that her son was guilty. She claimed that he was set up by older women.

For his many crimes, Judge Vernice Trease of Salt Lake City, Utah, sentenced Mohammed to five years of probation instead of a prison term at the Utah State Prison. His probation sentence will include weekly check-ins, lack of internet access, and an ankle monitor. Trease said on Monday that she “won’t bat an eye” if Mohammed violates the probationary period: she will send him to prison.

In testimony, Mohammed claimed that he was born in a Somali refugee camp and watched a robber murder his brother. He also claimed to have been subjected to sexual abuse, and said he witnessed a rape. 

One of Mohammed's victims told the judge on Monday that she is "terrified” by the knowledge that Mohammed will be released. “He did adult crimes and should have an adult sentence to match what he did,” the victim said. Prosecutor Coral Sanchez-Rose told the court that she has lost contact with the other victim. “I don’t know if she’s homeless, I don’t know where she’s staying at; we’re unable to contact her. Clearly, this has had a great impact in her life,” Sanchez-Rose said.

Both victims asked Trease in 2012 for Mohammed to be sentenced to adult prison.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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