A lawyer argued that his client should not be jailed for groping a woman in a store because he did not understand that his actions were not allowed in the United States.
43-year-old Azadeen Altom, who now lives in Logan, Utah, was arrested after walking up to a woman in a supermarket and groping her buttocks while she was shopping.
Altom pleaded guilty to one count of forced sexual abuse, reduced to a third-degree felony.
During sentencing, defense attorney Bryan Galloway asked the judge for leniency, saying that Altom, who is originally from Sudan, does not understand the culture here and needs more education to live in society.
“I did not think the defendant was a sex offender or a stalker, he just does not understand what is legal and what is not,” the lawyer said.
However, State prosecutor Griffin Hazzard did not agree. He said that if Altom is not able to understand cultural differences, and not understand that you do not approach women and grab them, then he cannot be in society.
Hazzard also noted that Altom has a criminal history including walking into the Logan Middle School cafeteria, sitting down, and looking at a group of girls.
He was removed by police.
A month later, he was arrested at Walmart after a teenager reported that he was harassing her.
Altom was also charged with failing to register as a sex offender for crimes he committed in Nebraska.
Judge Kevin Allen acknowledged the cultural differences but said he did not know of any culture in which it was appropriate to grab a woman in a supermarket.
He explained that no woman or man should have to tolerate that kind of behavior in our community. Judge Allen sentenced Altom to up to five years in prison.
Last year, Judge Thomas Willmore sentenced Altom to serve 1-year in jail. He refused a lighter sentence of just 3 months, which was recommended by probation officers.
However, after spending 5 months in prison, the judge released Altom so immigration officers could deport him.
Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen explained that Altom was not deported after his native country refused to take him. Since he couldn’t be deported, he was allowed to walk free until he offended again.
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