Azal Saleh booking photo (credit: Kent County Jail)

Azal Saleh booking photo (credit: Kent County Jail)

GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – An Iraqi woman who described her life in Baghdad as “hell” before fleeing to the U.S. has been charged in the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in western Michigan.

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The Grand Rapids Press reports Thursday that 22-year-old Azal Saleh faces a Nov. 9 trial for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The girl told police she was touched beneath her clothing in February while she was staying at home in Grandville, southwest of Grand Rapids.

According to a police report, the teen told investigators that Saleh — who also goes by the name “Mary” — was rubbing her arm and chest when she asked her to stop. That’s when, the teen said, Saleh assured her it was a normal thing for friends to do. The touching allegedly moved under the clothes and to the teen’s pubic area, before the girl was able to get Saleh to stop.

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A refugee services organization — Bethany Christian Services — placed Saleh at the home, where the teen was visiting family friends.

Saleh, who has been in the U.S. since 2010,  has a 2-year-old daughter and currently lives on Grand Rapids’ West Side, according to court records.

She told told the newspaper for a story in April that “a lot of bad things happened” to her in Iraq and that she “came from hell, mistreated and abused.”

Saleh was reportedly offered a plea deal which she rejected, proclaiming her innocence. The Associated Press left a message Thursday seeking comment from her attorney.

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