Refugee released from Nashville jail after wrongful arrest for statutory rape

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 21:49:42-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — He was locked up since Monday on charges of statutory rape, but Maseehullah Feda was released nearly three days later after new details cleared his name.

What started as a phone call miles away in California, led Metro Nashville Police to an extended stay hotel off Murfreesboro Pike. The caller claimed their friend was fighting with her husband.

Police arrived and spoke with Feda’s wife Mursal, who explained that the two were only arguing. Officers saw no physical signs of abuse on either of them, so they asked for ID.

Mursal told officers that she and her husband were refugees from Afghanistan. She gave officers two US Work Authorization cards and that’s when officers noticed the date of birth made her 15 turning 16 later this month. Meanwhile, Maseehullah’s ID showed he was 25. Police say Mursal also told them she was 16.

Officers consulted the help of a supervisor for Youth Services and began questioning the couple. Eventually, they asked if the two had been sexually active to which they both replied, yes.

The supervisor explained to officers that there was enough evidence to support charges of statutory rape. Officers placed Maseehullah under arrest, while Mursal and a one-year-old child were put in the care of the Department of Children Services.

Immigration attorney Rehim Babaoglu said the issue of age differences comes up often, but if there’s proof of marriage, officials typically stay out of the way.

“The standard operation of countries is to honor each other’s laws. If they’re legally, legitimately married in that country, then we will recognize that marriage despite the age disparity and what might not be socially acceptable in our culture,” Babaoglu said.

As it turns out, it wouldn’t have made a difference in this case.

On Wednesday afternoon, police called to tell NewsChannel 5 they discovered a birth certificate from Afghanistan suggesting that Mursal was 18, turning 19 years old.

Police told us they would do their best to get Maseehullah out of jail as soon as possible and hours later, NewsChannel 5 found him outside the jail waiting for his wife. There was a language barrier at first, but you could tell Maseehullah was confused as to how he wound up in jail.

NewsChannel 5 also spoke briefly with Mursal over the phone as she was on her to pick up her husband. She had just been released from DCS care. She didn't have much to say other than she was on her way.

Maseehullah was scheduled to have a court appearance Thursday morning, pending any changes to his charges. At the moment, it’s not clear if his charges have been dropped altogether by the Nashville District Attorney’s office.

It’s also not clear why Mursal would tell officers she was 16 when her birth certificate showed she was 18.