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Estranged Muslim leader wants to clear his name

A Muslim leader in Canada, charged with assault in Washington County, is trying to clear his name and reunite with his family in Woodbury.

Formerly a respiratory therapist at a Woodbury hospital, Abdi Elmy Hersy denies charges stemming from two alleged assaults that allegedly occurred in 2006 at a Woodbury hospital.

"I don't have anything to hide," Hersy recently told the Bulletin, after mass emailing a letter asking to take part in court proceedings or have the charges dismissed.

Hersy is living in Canada on refugee protection status, since his work permit was not renewed in 2007, a year after two women came forward with allegations of fondling, he said. While Washington County Attorney's Office believes he fled from the charges, Hersy claims he had no choice but to go to Canada. The country began the deportation process from Canada to Somalia after learning of the active warrant for his arrest in the U.S., Fred Fink Jr., criminal division chief at the county. In Washington County District Court, he faces two counts each of fourth- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and criminal abuse.

Hersy recently called the Bulletin to deny the charges and express his wishes for "my day in court," he said. "They don't have credible witnesses."

He wants to be with his five beautiful kids and wife in Minnesota, Hersy added.

But Fink said the county isn't going to seek extradition, a long and expensive process that might merely lead Hersy back to Canada. 

Hersy offered to meet officials at the Minnesota-Canada border for the court proceedings, but the county's position hasn't changed: Its best move is to let Canada finish its deportation proceedings.

Hersy, who has no criminal record, also doesn't believe that he will be deported from Canada, he said. "No one will deport me. In Canada, it's tough to deport anybody, because they have to prove a security risk. It won't happen."

He is just the opposite of a security risk, Hersy said. In Canada, he is one of the spokesmen for Extreme Dialogue, a new program to fight radicalization of Canadian youths. 

"I'm a man of dignity," Hersy said, "and I will fight (to clear my name) until the last day of my life."