Mohammad Abdullah Saleem said nothing as he left a suburban courthouse Tuesday afternoon after posting a $25,000 bond.
The prominent Islamic scholar and 75-year-old head of the popular Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin was charged with sexually abusing a 23-year-old female employee.
Thomas Glasgow, Saleem’s attorney, said Saleem is “very confident in the fact that he’s done nothing wrong.”
A civil suit filed Tuesday by Attorney Steven Denny accuses Saleem of abusing three other young girls when they were students at the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin during the 80s and 90s.
“This tale of abuse spans four decades,” Denny said.
At a conference surrounding the lawsuit, an advocate read a statement from one of the victim’s.
“As a teen starting my freshman year in high school I imagined a lot of new exciting things with this new beginning. Being molested by the Principal Saleem was not one of them,” the statement read. “My innocence kept me from speaking out, until one day I did.”
The 49-page lawsuit alleges members of the school were made aware of various abuse allegations over the years, but those claims were never reported.
“Total unquestioned authority was given to him,” said Mohammed Kaiseruddin with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater America. “There was a board of trustees but they had absolutely no power and they were consulted only as necessary by Abdullah Saleem. Otherwise all the decisions were being made by him.”
More than 30 people showed up in court Tuesday in support of Saleem, some of them referring to themselves as Saleem’s followers.
“I just don’t know what happened,” said Ameer Gaffor. “I was very surprised. He’s a very nice human being… It’s very difficult to believe anything.”
Glasgow said Saleem is cooperating with investigators.