A 49-year-old man reportedly boarded a flight for the United Arab Emirates two days before he was to stand trial in Kennewick on charges of raping and molesting a grade-school girl.
A nationwide arrest warrant was issued this week for Khalid A. Fathey after he was a no-show at his Benton County Superior Court trial.
The U.S. Marshals Service then discovered that Fathey left Seattle on July 23 on a plane bound for Dubai, said Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra.
She did not know if it was a one-way ticket or round trip.
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Fathey was free on his personal recognizance since being charged with the sex crimes in May 2015. He now faces a new charge of bail jumping.
Judge Vic VanderSchoor waited 1 1/2 hours Monday — in case Fathey had car trouble or another problem — before calling off the trial, releasing the jurors and ordering the arrest warrant.
“Needless to say, the victim’s family was very upset by the news,” Petra told the Herald. “They wanted justice in this case and for this case to be over.”
Needless to say, the victim’s family was very upset by the news. They wanted justice in this case and for this case to be over.
Anita Petra, Benton County deputy prosecutor
Kennewick attorney Kevin Holt, who was hired by Fathey, said he met with his client for about eight hours on July 21 and then prepared for the trial.
“He assured me that he would be here Monday morning,” Holt said.
Fathey’s brother showed up at Holt’s office as scheduled at 8 a.m. and the two headed to court, but they never heard from Fathey.
Holt said he has not seen an actual report from the Marshals Service that his client fled the country. The brother is supposed to call him with an update on Wednesday afternoon.
Holt said his client is from northern Iraq. Fathey had been in the military and worked with the United States government after the 2003 invasion, he said.
Since Fathey was no longer welcome in Iraq under the new regime, he sought political asylum and came to the United States with his wife and children as political refugees, Holt said.
Fathey and his wife were paid by the state for four years to be full-time caregivers for a Tri-City woman who had medical issues, he said.
Fathey contends the sex crimes did not happen and were made up by the girl’s family. Fathey and his family had to move to Spokane from Kennewick about six months ago because they were afraid for their safety in the Tri-Cities, especially after someone reportedly set fire to their car, said Holt.
“It really is a sad situation where our system has gotten so biased that a person has to fear for his life and would run, as opposed to face justice,” Holt said.
It really is a sad situation where our system has gotten so biased that a person has to fear for his life and would run, as opposed to face justice.
Kevin Holt, defense attorney
Prosecutors allege the girl’s mother became suspicious in December 2014 when she found the girl and Fathey together, and Fathey “appeared nervous.”
The girl later disclosed to her mother that Fathey allegedly kissed her and touched her sexually several times over a six-month period. Fathey “told (the girl) never to tell or she was going to get in trouble,” documents said.
Before the police were involved, Fathey called his religious leader, who had them sit down together with the girl’s parents, court documents said. Fathey admitted to the inappropriate touching but would not elaborate, documents said.
The girl’s mother fainted during the meeting, and police were called.
Fathey is charged with one count of first-degree rape of a child and two counts of first-degree child molestation. All three counts include the aggravating circumstance that he used a position of trust to commit the crimes.
If somebody sees Fathey in the Tri-Cities, they are asked to call Benton County dispatch at 509-628-0333.
People who have information to pass on about Fathey or the case are encouraged to call the Kennewick Police Department at 509-585-4208.