Trial starts for man accused of female genital mutilation

LAWRENCEVILLE - Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Loganville man accused of circumcising his young daughter five years ago.

Khalid Adem, a native Ethiopian accused of using a pair of scissors to mutilate his daughter's genitalia, has been charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children. If convicted, Adem could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge.

Defense attorney Mark Hill said he expects the jury selection to end today. Opening arguments are expected to take place this afternoon, but no witnesses are expected to take the stand today.

The trial is expected to continue into next week, Hill said.

Adem is accused of performing the act sometime between September and October 2001, when his daughter was 2 years old.

The circumcision is an African tradition in which a girl's clitoris is amputated, limiting sexuality and promoting female virginity. In some cases, the girl's vagina is sewn shut, and only a small hole is left for urine and menstrual flow.

Adem denies performing the procedure, saying what happened to his daughter was a vindictive act on the part of his ex-wife or someone associated with her. He said the accusations were brought about during a bitter custody battle.

During a preliminary hearing, a detective testified that the girl's mother was leery about allowing Adem to see the girl when his mother was in town because she feared they might perform the circumcision.

The detective said Adem implied he had already performed the procedure, which led the mother to take the girl to a doctor, who confirmed the girl had been circumcised after discovering a scar on her genitals.

The discovery of the Adem girl's circumcision was the first documented case of female genital mutilation in the U.S.