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Judge weighs case of man charged with raping clerk in Mapleton convenience store bathroom

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Abdulrahman Ali appears for his felony bench trial Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Cass County District Court in Fargo for the alleged rape of a Mapleton, N.D., convenience store clerk in 2015. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

FARGO — The fate of a Fargo man accused of sexually assaulting a Mapleton, N.D., convenience store clerk in December 2015 is in the hands of a judge following a bench trial Wednesday morning, June 14, in Cass County District Court.

Both sides in the trial of Abdulrahman I. Ali agree that he sexually assaulted a woman in the bathroom of the store. At issue is whether he was criminally responsible at the time.

Prosecutors called to the stand a North Dakota State Hospital clinical psychologist, Mark Rodlund, who testified that while Ali was mentally ill at the time of the crime and suffered from a delusion that the victim was his wife, he was not so ill that he lacked criminal responsibility.

"He was aware his actions were harmful," Rodlund said.

Ali faces felony charges of gross sexual imposition, kidnapping, aggravated assault and terrorizing in connection with the assault that occurred on the morning of Dec. 2, 2015.

According to court documents and statements made earlier in court by an investigator:

Ali entered Gordy's Travel Plaza in Mapleton shortly after it opened and moments later pulled a female store clerk into the women's bathroom. He then forced the woman to remove her clothes and took his own clothes off before trying to have sex with her, according to court documents.

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Rodlund said the fact Ali took the woman into a bathroom and locked the door was an indication he was aware of what he was doing. Further indication of this, Rodlund said, was an incident that occurred after Ali's arrest, in which he exposed himself to a female jailer and suggested he would do to her what he did at "the gas station."

Ali's attorney, Stormy Vickers, maintained that the strength of Ali's delusion that the victim was his wife indicated he was not criminally responsible at the time.

"He had a completely separate reality," Vickers said.

In closing statements, prosecutor Ryan Younggren told Judge Tom Olson that Ali was charged with a Class AA felony because the state believed his actions were as serious as they get.

"It's hard for me to overstate what a serious crime that is," Younggren said. "This is someone we have to make sure doesn't get away with this."

Vickers countered that if it is determined Ali lacked criminal responsibility, "He doesn't go free. He's required to be committed and that commitment could be indefinite."

Ali did not take the stand but instead made several statements during the trial indicating he did not understand what was happening.

"I having nothing to say, your honor. I am not OK," Ali told Judge Olson.

Olson said he would review the case and issue written findings.

Dave Olson
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