LAWRENCEVILLE - A Loganville man has been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for the genital mutilation of his daughter.
A jury on Wednesday found Ethiopia native Khalid Adem guilty on one count of aggravated battery and one count of cruelty to children for using a pair of scissors to remove his 2-year-old daughter's clitoris in 2001.
Genital mutilation, also referred to as female circumcision, is practiced in some African cultures to limit sexuality and preserve virginity in females.
Judge Richard Winegarden sentenced Adem to 15 years for each count. Both will be served concurrently, with the first 10 years in prison and the last five years on probation.
Adem was also sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine for the aggravated battery count and $32 a month for a probation and supervision fee.
Winegarden said the maximum penalty of 40 years for both counts, which the state recommended, was too harsh and was not warranted considering the facts of the case.
Winegarden specifically eluded to a piece of testimony that stated Adem prayed before cutting his daughter.
"This is not a crime that fits into any well-defined category," Winegarden said of the case, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. "There's no indication that the defendant committed the crime out of greed or anger. ... I don't think this is going to happen again."
Adem, who cried continually throughout the trial, told the judge after sentencing that he was innocent of the charges.
"I did not in any way commit this crime," Adem said. "I love my daughter, and I always wish the best for my daughter."
But Adem said he respected the U.S. justice system and charged the district attorney's office with finding who is responsible for the circumcision.
Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Marty First said the jury's verdict was sufficient enough to prove that Adem and someone else were the ones responsible.
"There is another perpetrator," First said. "We don't know who he is, but (Adem) does.
"This defendant got on the stand, and lied, and he got caught."
Defense attorney W. Mark Hill told reporters after the verdict was read that he was dumbfounded.
"I respect the jury's decision, but I disagree with it, and I know he's innocent," said Hill, who said he took Adem's case pro bono. "I felt we were going to get a not guilty verdict.
"I plan to file an appeal, but other than that, what can I say?"
Hill also told the judge after sentencing that he would not be able to represent Adem in appeal hearings, as Hill does not do appeal work.