Connecticut state Rep. Maryam Khan speaks out about alleged assault at Eid prayer service


(CONNECTICUT) — Connecticut state Rep. Maryam Khan has spoken out a week after she was allegedly assaulted by a man while attending a gathering for Eid al-Adha prayers with her family.

The incident was reported at the XL Center in Hartford on the morning of June 28. Police said in a news release that officers responded to the area of 225 Trumbull Street after an assault against a female, who sustained minor injuries.

When they arrived on the scene, the responding officers found the suspect already detained by civilian bystanders and he was arrested.

“During the officer’s investigation, it was determined that the suspect approached a female, later determined to be a public official, and began to make unwanted advances,” police said. “The suspect also attempted to prevent her from leaving and assaulted the female.”

Police did not name Khan in the news release, as they don’t identify crime victims, but the lawmaker was identified the day of the incident by the Connecticut branch of the Council of Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Khan has since issued a statement, saying on Wednesday that she “experienced an attempted sexual assault and violent physical assault” the morning of June 28.

“I have sustained multiple physical injuries and it has taken an emotional toll on me and my family and children — who witnessed the attack and were in harm’s way,” Khan said, later adding,” I am on a long journey of physical and emotional healing and I ask for your grace during this time.”

Khan said she was “immensely grateful” for the men who helped apprehend the suspect but remains concerned about “the lack of security at one of the largest Muslim gatherings on the day of Eid in Hartford.”

The lawmaker said she plans to speak more about the incident on Thursday.

Andrey Desmond, 30, of New Britain, Connecticut, was arrested on June 28 in connection with the incident and charged with unlawful restraint in the second degree, assault in the second degree, breach of peace in the second degree and interfering with police.

Desmond was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bond at his arraignment on June 29, The Associated Press reported.

Desmond’s public defender said her client has “significant mental health issues” at the hearing, and the judge recommended he receive mental health treatment while in jail, according to CT Insider.

Khan was with her sister, a friend and her three children when they were reportedly approached by a man at the XL Center who “made vulgar and obscene remarks,” according to CAIR.

Khan told CAIR that the alleged assailant “grabbed and hit her and threw her to the ground.”

“We urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this attack and to ensure the safety of the Connecticut Muslim community during the ongoing Eid al-Adha celebrations,” said CAIR-Connecticut Chair Farhan Memon. “All too often we have seen American Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim, targeted by hate because of their attire, race or ethnicity.”

Connecticut lawmakers on the state and national level also condemned the alleged attack.

“I condemn this abhorrent attack on Rep. Khan & her family outside an Eid al-Adha prayer gathering. I urge vigorous investigation & prompt prosecution as appropriate to show that our state has zero tolerance for such repugnant violence,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., tweeted.

Eid al-Adha is a Muslim holiday that celebrates the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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