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Iraqi Refugee Charged In Sex Assault Of 14-Year-Old Michigan Girl

Azal Saleh
Azal Saleh booking photo (credit: Kent County Jail)

GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - An Iraqi woman who described her life in Baghdad as "hell" before fleeing to the U.S. has been charged in the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in western Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Thursday that 22-year-old Azal Saleh faces a Nov. 9 trial for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The girl told police she was touched beneath her clothing in February while she was staying at home in Grandville, southwest of Grand Rapids.

According to a police report, the teen told investigators that Saleh — who also goes by the name "Mary" — was rubbing her arm and chest when she asked her to stop. That's when, the teen said, Saleh assured her it was a normal thing for friends to do. The touching allegedly moved under the clothes and to the teen's pubic area, before the girl was able to get Saleh to stop.

A refugee services organization — Bethany Christian Services — placed Saleh at the home, where the teen was visiting family friends.

Saleh, who has been in the U.S. since 2010,  has a 2-year-old daughter and currently lives on Grand Rapids' West Side, according to court records.

She told told the newspaper for a story in April that "a lot of bad things happened" to her in Iraq and that she "came from hell, mistreated and abused."

Saleh was reportedly offered a plea deal which she rejected, proclaiming her innocence. The Associated Press left a message Thursday seeking comment from her attorney.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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