Scott Mager and Brian Paruas at Mager Paruas in Hollywood secured a confidential settlement for three women who were repeatedly sexually molested by the former principal of Nur-Ul-Islam, an Islamic private school in Cooper City between 2006 and 2008.
The middle school students, now adult Jane Does, sued the school, its adjoining mosque and school president Kem Hussain in 2014, over allegations they continued to employ teacher Tariq Ahmad — and later promoted him to principal — ignoring allegations that he’d sexually abused other students years earlier.
The plaintiffs claimed Ahmed forced them into sex on multiple occasions. One student was allegedly molested more than 100 times from the age of 12, according to Mager, who claimed that the school had no procedures in place for addressing or identifying potential victims of sexual abuse.
Police ultimately indicted Ahmad on multiple felony rape counts, but he fled the jurisdiction before he could be arrested. Ahmad is still on the run.
Mager would not disclose the settlement amount — except to say that it was an ”extremely substantial” sum.
According to the complaint, school president Hussain told the parent of one Jane Doe that Ahmad had admitted to improper contact with students, but no one alerted law enforcement. Instead, the lawsuit claimed, the school had Ahmad sign a letter of resignation that was allegedly kept on file to be used against him if he was caught reoffending.
Shelley H. Leinicke of Wicker, Smith, O’Hara, McCoy & Ford in Fort Lauderdale represented the school, while Lonni Tessler of Cole, Scott & Kissane’s Plantation office represented the school’s mosque. Neither responded to requests for comment before deadline.
When police charged Ahmad in 2014, CBS Miami reported that the school said in a statement, “Recently, we have become aware of disturbing allegations regarding a former teacher. … Upon learning of these allegations the academy immediately suspended the teacher’s employment.”
The lawsuit also accused president Hussain of telling a Jane Doe that she was equally responsible for what happened to her.
Counsel to Hussain, Robert E. Paradela of Wicker Smith, did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.
For Mager, the road to settlement was long and fraught with pressure from the plaintiffs’ friends and family members to quash the case.
“That’s a horrific situation for victims,” Mager said. “You had a pervasive conspiracy of silence, if you will, because the parents and the culture wouldn’t allow people to talk about this.”
According to Mager, he and Paruas received various phone calls urging them to drop the lawsuit.
Mager compared the case to a recent wave of historic sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church, which has been widely criticized for an alleged culture of silence.
“It has nothing to do with an attack on Muslims or the Muslim faith,” Mager said. “It has to do with protecting our children. I don’t care what faith you are. Injustice like this is just devastating.”
Throughout the case, Mager consulted with Islamic scholars and religious experts, who he said were glad to see the issue publicized.
“This is uncorking a river flow of exposure that needs to happen,” Mager said. “In my 30 years of practicing, I’m proud to have championed the rights of women when other people wouldn’t, when it would have been much easier to just get away from this.”
Mager said the case devastated him.
“Ten years later, these kids are just in a wreck. Their families abandoned them because it was unacceptable to come out with this, so they were truly alone,” Mager said.