The actions of a prosecutor in California are under review after he used his 13-year-old daughter as bait to catch a man who had allegedly sexually assaulted her three times before.
The unidentified prosecutor at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office had planned for his daughter to walk the same trail where she said the man had molested her, according to a police report obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The prosecutor directed his teenage daughter to let the suspect touch her if if she encountered him but to move away if he touched her breasts or between her legs, states the document, which was first reported by the Mercury News.
He then recorded the interaction between the suspect and his daughter and handed the videos over to police, who arrested 76-year-old Ali Mohammad Lajmiri the next day on Nov. 12.
Lajmiri was charged with multiple felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 and false imprisonment. He is being held at Santa Clara County Jail in lieu of $3 million bail.
In a note to his staff on Monday, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen said his office was conducting an internal review concerning “the actions of one of our prosecutors and the arrest of a man for sexually assaulting the prosecutor’s daughter.”
Due to the conflict of interest, the California Attorney General’s Office is handling the case.
“The moment we became aware of this matter, we took immediate action, referring it to the Attorney General’s Office and initiating our own internal review,” said Rosen’s note, which was provided to BuzzFeed News. “As prosecutors, we must never forget that our own behavior – inside and outside of the courtroom – matters. The choices we make in our professional and personal lives need to be in harmony with the protocols, laws, and ethics of our criminal justice system. Swirling media attention, talk, opinions, and gossip can lead people to forget that at the heart of this matter is a young victim.”
Lajmiri approached the teenage girl around five times between August and September while she walked her dog on the Los Alamitos Trail, the San Jose Police Department said in a news release.
The suspect first approached the girl to pet her dog. But he allegedly touched her inappropriately during three other encounters, including rubbing his hands on her waist and on top of her breast over her clothing, placing his hands inside the collar of her shirt, and brushing his hand against her thigh and buttock over her clothing.
The San Jose Police Department began investigating the case on Oct. 8 after the prosecutor told officials that his daughter had disclosed the alleged sexual assault to her doctor.
In early November, the prosecutor went on the trail and took a photo of the suspect wearing a tracksuit that matched his daughter’s description, according to the police report. When the girl’s mother spotted the suspect a few days later, she followed him to his home near the trail and gave his address to police.
On Nov. 11, the prosecutor informed police that he had recorded his daughter being touched by the suspect, and that he had tried to kiss her on the mouth.
The prosecutor told police that he arranged for his daughter to walk back and forth on the trail where she had previously encountered the suspect and that he would be nearby. He said they both had cellphones and earbuds so they could talk to each other.
The prosecutor stated that "they had already done this several times."
"He directed [the victim] to let [the suspect] touch her if she encountered him, but if it was the breast or between the legs to move away," the report states. "He instructed [the victim] to let [the suspect] identify and make the contact and if she cannot handle things she should move away. He instructed [the victim] to walk back and forth on the designated route and don’t interact with anyone for very long."
The prosecutor told police that he heard his daughter talking to someone but could not see her. He later walked past the suspect and his daughter walking next to each other and began recording their interaction.
One video that the prosecutor sent police showed the suspect walking with his arm around the girl's waist.
Another video showed the suspect sitting very close to the girl on a bench and grabbing her waist to pull her toward his lap when she tried to get up from the bench.
The video showed the suspect moving his head toward the girl, who later told police that the man had "leaned in for a kiss on her mouth." She said that the suspect prevented her from leaving.
He then kissed the top of her head and allowed her to leave, the report said. The video recorded by her father showed that the suspect continued to follow her on the trail.
During the encounter, the prosecutor told police that he lost sight of his daughter and the suspect twice.
After his arrest, Lajmiri told police that he had wrapped his arms around the girl and touched her waist, according to the police report. He also said that he accidentally touched her buttocks and may have accidentally touched her breast.
According to police, Lajmiri said he had kissed the girl's hand and head but described his actions as a "sign of affection as a fatherly figure."
He also told police he had trouble remembering the encounters because he had Alzheimer’s disease.