EVERETT — The girl’s father had a feeling Hussein S. Ali would skip town.
Those suspicions were confirmed in March 2018, when Ali was a no-show the day a Snohomish County Superior Court judge was set to formally issue findings and sentence him for two counts of first-degree child molestation. The judge put out a $2.5 million arrest warrant for the south Everett man.
After 3½ years overseas, Ali, now 32, was booked back into the Snohomish County Jail on Friday, bringing the case one step closer to resolution. The ordeal has been “like a rollercoaster,” the girl’s father said in an interview with The Daily Herald. It’s been painful for the family.
The abuse began when the girl was 9 and lasted almost two years, according to court papers. Ali was in his early 20s. At one point, Ali told her not to report him, he wrote in court documents.
She eventually told a school counselor, who then notified police.
Ali later admitted to the abuse in a two-page letter to a judge Feb. 26, 2018, less than a month before he vanished.
Investigators believe Ali first fled to Dubai, Courtney O’Keefe, a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, said earlier this month. Detectives later learned he was living in Sweden. From there, he went to the Netherlands, where he was arrested.
What followed was a two-year saga in Dutch courts, as American authorities tried to get Ali extradited. Ali’s last appeal was denied earlier this month.
In the meantime, the victim’s father spent countless hours researching similar cases with the hope Ali would eventually face punishment for what he did. The father has needed to get new glasses twice a year, he said, because he spends so much time on the computer.
He got a call Friday. The Snohomish County detective working the case, Larry Cole, told him Ali was en route. Ali would be back in jail in 40 minutes.
“It’s a big relief,” he said in an interview Monday.
But he doesn’t think his family will ever get true closure.
“You cannot undo something like that,” the father said.
He added: “There is no real closure. There is a suppression of the hurt feeling.”
The healing process for the family will be long, he said.
U.S. Marshals took Ali from the Netherlands to Seattle, where the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force picked him up and brought him to Everett, O’Keefe said in an email.
“There were many hurdles to overcome, including Mr. Ali filing several appeals that our detectives had to continuously provide documentation for,” she said. “It was an extremely complex process that was difficult to navigate and took a lot of time, dedication and coordination from the lead detective.”
Ali appeared in court Monday afternoon on video from the jail. Dressed in a green-and-white-striped uniform, he didn’t say a word in the brief hearing.
Superior Court Judge Millie Judge set a new bench trial for Jan. 14, when a judge will make formal findings on Ali’s guilt based on a review of investigative records. His bail will remain $2.5 million.
Ali grew up in Syria in a camp for Palestinian refugees before coming to the United States in 2010. The judge ordered him to forfeit any passports.
“Both of his passports are basically the means that he had to flee this case, flee this country, and travel to multiple countries in Europe while we were attempting to apprehend him,” deputy prosecuting attorney Justin Harleman said in court Monday.
His defense attorney said Dutch authorities seized his passports when he was detained there.
Ali’s former lawyer withdrew his representation, so he has a new Everett-based defense attorney, Laura Shaver.
The victim’s father has started a nonprofit with other parents to lobby Congress for stricter restrictions on child abusers. He doesn’t want anyone else to experience what his family has.
The father said his daughter is doing well. She wants to be a pediatrician.