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Man is guilty of abuse, torture

June 12, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A self-described polygamist has been convicted of charges that he tortured and abused some of his wives and 19 children and stepchildren.

A Riverside County jury found 55-year-old Mansa Muhummed guilty on 25 counts Wednesday, including torturing seven of the children, abusing 12 of them and falsely imprisoning two wives. He could face seven life sentences.

Muhummed told authorities that his Muslim faith gave him the right to take multiple wives. He was arrested in 1999 after one of the women slipped a 13-page letter to a postal worker describing abuse.

His children and stepchildren testified that they were starved, beaten and strung up by their feet. They said they had to steal food from Muhummed to survive. One woman was 19 and weighed just 56 pounds.

Muhummed denied any wrongdoing and blamed one of his wives for the abuse.

The family was living in the rural southern Riverside County community of Aguanga after having lived in Hemet, Perris, San Bernardino and Desert Hot Springs. The case came to light when a woman locked up in a garage gave a letter to a postal carrier that was forwarded to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators found two of the man's former wives and four children, ages 3 to 6, living in the locked garage with no toilets, running water or heat. They slept on two mattresses on the floor. Authorities later discovered 11 other children living in the house with little food and forced to endure harsh discipline, including being beaten on the feet and hands with a paddle.

During the trial, 14 of Muhummed's children and stepchildren testified against him.

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