PHOENIX (AP) - Child abuse charges were dismissed Tuesday against two Liberian refugees whose 8-year-old daughter was gang-raped nearly six years ago in an unrelated case.
Wedeh Farly Dio, 53, and Hemie Dio, 64, were charged with child abuse stemming from their punishment of their children. The abuse case was unrelated to the rape. The couple had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Investigators say four boys, ages 9 to 14, lured the couple’s daughter to an empty west Phoenix storage shed in July 2009 with the promise of chewing gum, restrained her and took turns raping her. All the children involved were refugees from the African nation of Liberia, where rape was a common practice during the country’s 14-year civil war.
The case sparked an international outcry after police reported the girl’s father said she brought shame on the family and he didn’t want her back - comments a family pastor later said were misunderstood because of a language barrier.
The girl no longer lives with her parents and is now in foster custody.
The child abuse case against the girl’s parents was difficult to press in court, in part, because an interpreter had to be brought in from Minnesota for court hearings because the couple speaks Seaside Grebo, a rare language.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement that his office agreed to dismiss the case after the couple complied with all court orders and child-safety standards were established. “Proceeding with a prosecution would have required interpreter resources not available in the United States and would not have added much more to the supervision that had taken place over the last six years,” Montgomery said.
Gerald Gavin, an attorney for Hemie Dio, said the couple was stricter with their children than American parents would be, but he said their punishment didn’t rise to the level of abuse. “Having known them for six years, I can’t imagine them doing that,” Gavin said.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.