Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Officer Aleem Abdullah - Benton Harbor PD

Also See:
Officer Aleem Abdullah - Domestic violence allegation [November 23, 2001]

2000: Officer Aleem Abdullah [Benton Harbor PD] was charged with having sex with an underage girl while on duty. But a jury acquitted him.

2001: Nikkita Abdullah [wife of Officer Aleem Abdullah] is placed on probation for a domestic violence charge.

November 21, 2001: Nikkita Abdullah [wife of Officer Aleem Abdullah] was charged with assault and battery against Verna McGruder, while on probation for domestic violence.

November 23, 2001: An alteraction takes place between Nikkita and Officer Abdullah. Nikkita files a domestic violence complaint against her husband / Officer Abdullah. Berrien County SD is unable to determine who the instigator was, therefore the prosecutor did not file charges.

Patrolman may face charges
Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 12:00 am
Updated: 4:53 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR -- A Benton Harbor police patrolman is facing a domestic violence complaint stemming from an alleged incident Friday, officials said Monday.

Berrien County Prosecutor James Cherry said he will review a sheriff's department report on Aleem Abdullah. Sheriff's Chief Deputy William Marx reported the department is investigating the complaint filed by Abdullah's wife, Nikkita. The sheriff's department was asked by Benton Harbor police to handle the investigation because Abdullah is one of its officers.

Marx released no details about the incident, other than it occurred at 6:08 p.m. at 1252 Bishop St., Benton Harbor, and no arrests were made.

Cherry said he received the report minutes before 5 p.m. Monday and had not yet read it. He said he probably would make a decision Wednesday whether to press charges in the incident.

Abdullah was charged last year with having sex with an underage girl while on duty. But a jury acquitted him.

Benton Harbor cop not guilty of sex charges

Posted: Friday, November 17, 2000 12:00 am
By CAROL KNAPP / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH -- A jubilant Aleem Abdullah clasped his hands high above his head as though giving thanks to a higher power Thursday after a Berrien Trial Court jury found him not guilty of having sex with an underage girl.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated a little over two hours before returning a verdict.

Abdullah said he never doubted the verdict would be in his favor "because I'm innocent and I was confident the truth would bear that out."

His attorney, Tat Parish of Watervliet, said the best piece of evidence corroborating Abdullah's assertion of innocence was a videotape from the Target Store in Benton Township that shows Abdullah purchasing a bedspread.

It appears to be the same comforter his teen-age accuser said was on the bed at his Bishop Street home in December when she claimed the two had sex. The tape was made March 18, and the store also provided a receipt showing the purchase on that date.

"That's the reason you have trials and defense," said Parish. "Often times if you don't look at things in a critical way you don't see the truth. If you only looked at what the girl had to say, you might have presumed Aleem was guilty, but sometimes the truth comes out in extreme ways."

The girl claimed she had sex with Abdullah two times when she was 15. She claimed a third encounter took place in a police vehicle in January, but no criminal charge resulted from that allegation because by then she had turned 16, the legal age of consent.

The trial in Judge John Fields' courtroom lasted seven days. Abdullah was acquitted of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A juror who did not wish to give his name said the girl was not a good witness.

"She kept changing her story. She just wasn't believable," he said. "There wasn't any physical evidence against the defendant, and the prosecution didn't present a strong case."

Abdullah said he felt good about the decision and said he was looking forward to going back to work.

"This unfortunate incident is not going to make me want to stop serving the community I belong to," he said. "I don't ever want to face the judicial system on that side again.

"I was fortunate that Mr. Parish was able to provide me with a good defense, but I think being assertive and using my knowledge as a police officer, I was also able to help myself."

Abdullah, on the Benton Harbor department for nearly five years, said he planned to be more diligent about keeping his paperwork in line.

"From now on I'm going to be more careful about crossing all my t's and dotting all my i's," he said.

According to his testimony, Abdullah gave the girl a ride home on the night she claimed the two first had sex. He said he radioed a dispatcher to report what he was doing and also claimed he wrote down information about the incident, but later threw out the paper in accordance with department practice.

The officer's daily log sheets for key days could not be found, but Abdullah testified that was not unusual for the department.

Benton Harbor Police Chief Douglas Wright said he expected that Abdullah would be reinstated.

"I instructed him to be in my office Monday morning to go over the preliminaries, to make sure he has all his equipment and so forth," Wright said.

                    Cop says he only gave girl ride home
Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2000 12:00 am
By SCOTT AIKEN / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH -- A Benton Harbor policeman accused of having sex with an underage girl said Wednesday that his only contact with the alleged victim was to give her a ride home.

Testifying in his own defense, Aleem Abdullah denied that the alleged victim had ever been to his house, contradicting her claims that sexual encounters took place twice in his residence in December.

The 30-year-old officer, who has been on unpaid leave pending the outcome of his trial, said he spotted the alleged victim while on patrol in December and gave her a ride home. The teen-age girl was trying to flag down cars on a city street at 3 a.m., the officer said.

"It seemed to me she had been drinking," Abdullah said, adding the girl told him she had been at a house party.

Abdullah said he dropped off the girl at her home on Columbus Avenue and did not contact a parent or consider placing the girl in custody.

Abdullah said he knew the Berrien County Juvenile Center would not admit the girl, and trying to get her admitted would have been a wasted effort that would tie him up for hours at a busy time of night.

"What's important is to get this juvenile off the street so I don't have a rape case on my hands in the morning," he told a Berrien Trial Court jury.

Abdullah said he radioed a dispatcher to report what he was doing.

Cross-examined by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Arthur Cotter, Abdullah said Benton Harbor has a curfew ordinance, but he did not cite the girl for a violation, and did not investigate to confirm that she had been drinking. State law does not allow an officer to administer a breath test to a pedestrian.

Abdullah claimed he wrote down information about the incident, but later threw out the paper in accordance with department policy.

The officer's daily log sheets for key days could not be found. Abdullah said that is not unusual in his department.

The girl was 15 at the time of the alleged incidents in December and turned 16 in January.

She testified that a third sexual encounter took place in Abdullah's patrol vehicle in January, after she had reached the age of consent.

The girl's testimony about when the alleged encounters occurred varied from her initial statements to police. Abdullah, who will mark five years with the Benton Harbor Police Department next month, was placed on unpaid leave in March after one of the girl's relatives filed a complaint

Defense attorney Tat Parish rested his case after Abdullah's testimony. Closing arguments were to take place today, followed by jury deliberation.

The trial in Judge John Fields' courtroom began Nov. 7.

Parish presented evidence that called into question the veracity of the girl's testimony.

She told the jury last week that she went to Abdullah's Bishop Street home two times in December, and they had sex on a bed fitted with a floral pattern comforter.

But a receipt and videotape show that the comforter seized by police as evidence was purchased March 18 at the Target store in Benton Township.

The videotape, made by a store security camera, shows Abdullah buying bedding.

Abdullah said he bought the comforter, new sheets and other bedding as a surprise for his wife because they were redecorating their bedroom. The couple has five children, the youngest less than a year old.

"It wasn't because you had to replace that stuff quickly, was it," Cotter asked.

Abdullah said washing required by wear and tear caused by his children may be why the comforter looks older than it is.

The alleged victim also claimed there was a white dresser in the bedroom, but officers who served a search warrant April 4 found a brown dresser.

Police seized the floral pattern comforter and two other comforters found in the basement.

                      Girl's testimony hammered in BH cop's sex trial
Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2000 12:00 am
By CAROL KNAPP / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH -- Michigan State police Det. Gary Shaffer's testimony Friday appeared to score points for the defense as he was cross-examined in the criminal sexual conduct case against Benton Harbor policeman Aleem Abdullah.

Lawyer Tat Parish represents Abdullah, 30, who is charged with having sex with a minor on two separate occasions at his Bishop Street home last December. A third incident allegedly occurred on or after the girl turned 16, the legal age for consent. He is not being charged in that alleged incident.

Parish took Shaffer through evidence that seemed to unravel piece by piece in testimony that took up most of the afternoon in Berrien Trial Court Judge John Fields' courtroom.

For starters, Shaffer testified that a comforter identified by the alleged victim as having been on Abdullah's bed while they were having sex before Christmas was actually purchased by Abdullah on March 18, according to store receipts and a video. The comforter was taken from Abdullah's home under warrant on April 4.

While inspecting the home, Shaffer said he did not find the white dresser the girl said was in the bedroom, or a white couch she said she sat on in the living room.

"What color did that couch turn out to be," Parish asked.

"Brown," Shaffer answered.

Also called into question during Shaffer's testimony was the girl's timetable of events. Initially Shaffer said she told him and another officer she had sex with Abdullah for the first time in his home, a second time in his squad car and a third time again in his home.

He said she changed her story when she told it a second time, placing the third and last time she had sex with him on her birthday on Jan. 5 in his squad car in a parking lot adjacent to Shoreline Bank on Riverview Drive.

That same evening she said she went with Abdullah to answer an alarm at 170 N. Riverview Drive. However, Shaffer said police log sheets indicated that alarm was reported on Jan. 6, the following day.

"I think we got the dates straightened out during the course of our interview," Shaffer said.

"That means you had to give her certain information then, did you not?" Parish asked.

"No, that's not correct," Shaffer said.

Shaffer also acknowledged that no one at the Benton Harbor Police Department could verify that anyone named "Tasha" had ever called for Abdullah there.

Tasha allegedly was the code name the girl said Abdullah suggested she use when she called him at the police station.

Chief Assistant Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter made few objections during Parish's cross-examination, which took up most of the three hours Shaffer was on the stand.

The prosecution was expected to wrap up its case Friday afternoon.

The defense will likely get its turn beginning Tuesday morning in the trial that began with jury selection Monday.

                    Cop bound over for trial
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2000 12:00 am
By MARK HARPER / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH -- A suspended Benton Harbor policeman accused of having sex with an under-aged girl was ordered Thursday to stand trial in Berrien Trial Court on two sex charges.

Aleem Abdullah, who is on unpaid leave from the police force pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against the Benton Harbor girl.

Berrien Trial Judge John Fields ordered Abdullah bound over for trial following a preliminary hearing.

Abdullah, 30, of Benton Harbor, pleaded not guilty to the charges and contends he never had sex with the girl. If convicted Abdullah, who has been on the police force four years, faces up to 15 years in prison.

The girl, who testified she was a high school dropout, alleges the incidents started in December when she 15. She turned 16 in January, the legal age of consent. She also admitted she disliked law enforcement authorities and spent time in a juvenile center.

Tat Parish, Abdullah's attorney, questioned the girl's recollection and motives during Thursday's hearing.

The girl testified her first encounter with the officer occurred when she was walking to her aunt's house in Benton Harbor from a house party on Pavone Street on the city's south side. She said the officer, who was on duty at the time, saw her and asked what she was doing out so late and offered her a ride.

When she arrived at her aunt's home, she testified the officer gave her the phone number to the police station and told her to call him and using the name "Tasha," she testified.

She said she called him and agreed to let him pick her up again.

She testified the man arrived in a patrol car, drove her back to a house on Bishop Street where she alleges the first assault occurred. She also said the man gave her $3, and the two had sex twice after the first time.

During cross-examination, she couldn't recall details of the inside of Abdullah's house. However, Greg Shaffer, a state police detective, testified she knew where Abdullah lived and what his bedspread looked like.

The third sexual encounter, she testified, occurred in a vehicle in the wee hours of Jan. 6, just after she turned 16.

                      BH cop faces sex charge
Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2000 12:00 am
By ELBERTA McKNIGHT / H-P Staff Writer
The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR -- A Benton Harbor police officer has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old girl after they rode to his home in a city squad car, the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office said.

Aleem Abdullah, 29, is expected to be in Berrien County Trial Court today after an arrest warrant was issued Tuesday. The warrant charges him with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, said Art Cotter, Berrien County chief assistant prosecutor.

"They did the investigation by the book," Cotter said. "The evidence leads where it leads."

But Abdullah says he has done nothing wrong and called the allegations "untrue" when reached by phone Tuesday.

"I'm not upset with it," said the four-year department veteran. "It's just something I have to deal with like anything else. It bothers me for my family, though. But for myself, I'm not upset."

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct is having sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 but over 13.

Cotter said a state police investigation disclosed that Abdullah drove the girl to his home in a squad car, where they reportedly had sex twice in December. Abdullah's been on paid leave of absence since mid-March after the girl's mother made the allegation to state police.

Abdullah will remain on leave from the department but will no longer be paid during the absence, Deputy Director of Public Safety Marcus Watson said.

"Basically, in a nutshell, it's an unfortunate situation that an officer has been charged in a crime," Watson said. "But we're going to let the courts handle it from here."

Abdullah's attorney, Tat Parish, made arrangements for his client to turn himself in this morning, before his 1:30 p.m. arraignment. Benton Harbor Acting City Manager Ron Singleton said he was shocked to learn the news and was sad for Abdullah and his family as well as the alleged victim and her family.

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