HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A charge is being dismissed against a man who was arrested after a woman told police in West Virginia that he tried to abduct her young daughter but later said she might have been overreacting, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Cabell County Prosecutor Corky Hammers said an attempted abduction charge will be dropped against Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, who was arrested Monday at the Huntington Mall food court in Barboursville, news outlets reported.
Hammers said no other charges would be brought against Zayan and he's still determining whether charges will be brought against the woman, who at first told police Zayan grabbed her 5-year-old daughter girl by the hair inside a clothing store and tried to pull her away.
"Unfortunately, as false accusations are becoming more prevalent in today's social media driven society, we are losing our grasp on 'presumed innocent until proven guilty,' and Mr. Zayan has been tried around the world by the court of public opinion," Zayan's attorney, Michelle Protzman of the Cabell County public defender's office, said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press.
"There is absolutely no evidence to support any wrongdoing, he is innocent and fully exonerated of all charges made against him," the statement continues. "We hope this news will travel around the globe as quickly as the unmerited charges."
Hammers didn't immediately return telephone messages Thursday.
Barboursville police initially said the woman, whose name wasn't released, pulled a gun on the man, forcing him to release the girl. No witnesses could be found, but mall surveillance video showed inconsistencies in the woman's original statement, police Sgt. Anthony Jividen said.
Jividen said the woman later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man's intentions. Zayan doesn't speak English and police say he may have simply been patting the girl on the head.
Zayan, 54, an engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who is in the area for work, was released from jail Tuesday night and he cried as he greeted family members.