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Man charged with sexual assault of store clerk enters 'not guilty' pleas

Abdulrahman Ali attends a preliminary hearing with his attorney Stormy Roger Vickers on Dec. 22, 2016, in Cass County District Court for the rape of a Mapleton convenience store clerk in 2015. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — A Fargo man accused of sexually assaulting a Mapleton, N.D., store clerk in December 2015 pleaded not guilty on Thursday, Dec. 22, to gross sexual assault and other charges he is facing in Cass County District Court.

During a hearing for Abdulrahman I. Ali, a detective with the Cass County Sheriff's Office recounted for the court the allegations behind the charges.

Det. Steve Gabrielson said Ali entered Gordy's Travel Plaza in Mapleton shortly after it opened on Dec. 2, 2015.

Moments later, Gabrielson said, Ali pulled a female store clerk into the woman's bathroom.

Ali then forced the woman to remove her clothes and took his own clothes off before attempting to have sex with the victim, according to Gabrielson.

Throughout Thursday's proceedings Ali listened quietly with the assistance of an interpreter.

He spoke briefly several times, stating at one point that he was "still sick" and on medication.

Ali also said he had nothing to do with what was being talked about and said "not guilty" each time he was asked to enter a plea to each of the five counts against him, which include one count each of gross sexual imposition, kidnapping, aggravated assault and two counts of terrorizing.

Court records indicate that earlier this year a mental evaluation was ordered for Ali. However, it is not clear from the public record whether an evaluation was completed, or what it may have concluded.

Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Ryan Younggren said he could not discuss any aspects of the case that might be confidential, but he said anytime a case might involve mental health issues those issues are addressed.

In recounting the attack at the convenience store, Gabrielson said at some point in the attack Ali struck the victim in the face and kicked her, causing injury to her left eye as well as bruising about her face and body.

Gabrielson said a customer in the store phoned 911 at the start of the attack.

He said the first officer to arrive made about a dozen attempts to kick in the locked bathroom door without success. A second officer was able to force open the door and as officers entered the restroom they found the victim on the floor bruised and bleeding and Ali "standing naked before them," Gabrielson said.

Ali was then taken to the floor and handcuffed, Gabrielson said.

The most serious charge Ali is facing, felony gross imposition, a Class AA felony, could carry a lifetime prison sentence if he is convicted.

His next court appearance was set for Feb. 22.

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