Refugee advocate admits to molesting child, but where is he?

Hussein Ali, 28, a refugee himself, failed to show up for a court appearance on Thursday.

EVERETT — A south Everett man who often has served as a spokesman for Syrian refugees living around Puget Sound is now wanted on an arrest warrant in a child molestation case, his bail set at $2.5 million.

Hussein S. Ali, 28, was a no-show Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court. He was to appear at a hearing scheduled to formalize his conviction and determine his sentence on two counts of first-degree child molestation involving a young girl.

Prosecutors and state corrections officials were recommending that he be sent to prison for more than seven years. An attorney for Ali was trying to make a case for a shorter prison term and sexual deviancy treatment, court papers show.

Ali earlier had admitted that he spent years molesting the girl whose family had extended him trust. She was 9 when the abuse began. He was 23, court papers say.

Ali had grown up in a camp for Palestinian refugees near Damascus, Syria. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2010, attended college, got married and has been working as an engineer for aerospace companies.

He also has been an outspoken, articulate advocate for opening the doors to refugees from war-torn Syria, including members of his own family. He’s met with lawmakers and human rights activists and repeatedly appeared in stories on television, online and in print, including The Daily Herald.

The molestation charges came after the girl, now in her mid-teens, reported to a school counselor what had happened to her over the years.

Ali initially denied any wrongdoing, but ultimately confessed, court papers show. In December, he agreed to a bench trail, essentially leaving it to a judge to decide his guilt based on a review of investigative records in the case.

That includes Ali’s confession, which was filed with the court in anticipation of sentencing Thursday.

“I had no excuse and should have known better,” he wrote. “I asked myself how can I live knowing that I have done this? I also asked myself: what do I do to mend what has been broken?”

The girl and her family were in court Thursday. So were three young men who said they were related to Ali. They told the defendant’s attorney, Brad Meryhew of Seattle, that they had no idea where he was and hadn’t seen him for several days.

“He has absented himself on his own doing,” deputy prosecutor Justin Harleman said.

He asked Judge Joseph Wilson to consider moving ahead without Ali. Meryhew said that would have required the court to first rule that his client had deliberately evaded the hearing. He suggested there wasn’t sufficient evidence.

The case is further complicated because the court had not yet presented its formal findings from the bench trial, the judge was told.

Wilson said he wasn’t taking action Thursday. He authorized an arrest warrant for Ali and set bail at $2.5 million.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

Madison is one of three aging elementary schools that would be torn down and replaced if the Everett schools bond is passed next year. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Everett school leaders have 2 big levies on February ballot

The district is asking voters to renew a levy for programs and operations, and to pass a $325 million capital and tech levy.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

A rainbow appears in front of Andy Huestis and his girlfriend Alisha Garvin as they and other families gather to remember the victims on the third anniversary of the Oso mudslide on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Oso, Wa. Huestis' sister, Christina Jefferds, and her baby granddaughter, Sanoah Violet Huestis, were among the 43 people killed in the mudslide.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Funding secured: Mudslide memorial will be a place to remember

Since 2014, families have mourned at a roadside shrine near Oso, but “we knew we needed something bigger.”

Most Read