A Muslim cleric in Texas has reportedly been ordered to pay $2.55 million in a sexual misconduct lawsuit.
District Court Judge Emily Tobolowsky ruled that Imam Zia ul-Haq Sheikh, 50, would be required to pay the money for mental anguish and other damages to his accuser, The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.
Sheikh told the paper in a Tuesday email that he believed the ruling “is in error.”
“Unfortunately, litigation in this country does not always favor the truth,” he said. “In most cases, it boils down to how much financial stamina one has, and whether one has good legal representation.”
He told The Dallas Morning News that he was thinking about appealing. He added that he represented himself toward the end of the lawsuit after dismissing his lawyer for financial reasons.
“The odds were stacked against me winning this case,” Sheikh said.
Lawyer Susan Adams, who represented the accuser, said in a statement obtained by the newspaper that the judgment “offers justice and hope not only to her but to other survivors of abuse.”
Sheikh was reportedly accused in the lawsuit of sexually exploiting the woman, listed as Jane Doe, after she turned 18 while providing her with mental health services.
“Jane’s emotional dependency as a result of being counseled by defendant from age 13 to age 19 led Jane to be fearful of losing defendant’s support in her life, and therefore created a situation where Jane was unable to refuse defendant’s requests,” the suit claimed.
Sheikh has resigned his post.