Asadullo Ibrohimov was well-known among locals for providing infertility treatments. But video footage of the Tajik mullah's methods landed him in court, where he was found guilty
of charges of sexual misconduct and fraud in a closely watched case.
During proceedings in Dushanbe this week, Ibrohimov said he was partially guilty of the charges against him, for which was sentenced to seven years in prison. The rest of the blame, he said, lies with the woman he was trying to help.
Ibrohimov was arrested in September after a video of one of his infertility-treatment sessions
appeared on YouTube. The Tajik Interior Ministry identified Ibrohimov as the man in the video and pressed charges against him.
The five-minute clip appears to show Ibrohimov consulting with a woman before he begins the treatment while reciting the Koran. The male figure embraces the woman, fondles and kisses her, and lifts her dress to expose her belly and breasts as he gyrates behind her.
The 'Magic Mullah'
The video quickly became one of the most-viewed Tajik videos on YouTube, earning Ibrohimov the nickname "Magic Mullah" (Mulloi Jodugar).
Tajikistan's Interior Ministry has identified the victim only as 26-year-old "R.Z.," a resident of the Rudaki district of Dushanbe. A statement posted on the ministry's website says Ibrohimov "took advantage of R.Z.'s vulnerable state of mind to conduct sexual misconduct at his home."
Ibrohimov, reportedly from the Dushanbe suburb of Luchob, presented a different version of events in court during the opening session on October 21.
According to the presiding judge, Ismoil Davlatov, the mullah admitted partial guilt, claiming "the woman forced him to do what he did."
Officials at the capital's Sino District court say "R.Z." and three other witnesses have been summoned to testify in the closed-door trial, which concluded with a guilty verdict.
The trial generated mass interest and reporters were been banned from taking photos of "R.Z." and the witnesses. Officials say the measures were taken at the request of "R.Z." and were intended to protect her reputation.
Blame The Victim
The mullah's family, including his wife, is standing by his side. The family has accused the victim of provocative behavior and leading the mullah astray.
"It's her fault, entirely," a family member, who did not give his name, told reporters outside the court. "Can't you see on the video that the woman willingly embraces his shoulders?"
It remains unclear who recorded and posted the video on YouTube.
The clip appeared just weeks after a homemade sex tape by another Tajik religious figure found its way to the video-sharing site.
Local authorities in Luchob have acknowledged that Ibrohimov is a member of a prominent religious family and that his brother leads prayers in the area's grand mosque.