BARBOURSVILLE, WV (WSAZ/Gray News) - An Egyptian man was arrested and charged with a felony after he was accused by a woman of violently trying to abduct her daughter at a mall and who, after police found inconsistencies in her claim, determined he was actually just patting the 5-year-old girl on the head and smiling.
The woman chalked it up as a “cultural misunderstanding."
But Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan may still face a battery charge, WSAZ reports. He was released from jail on Tuesday night, and “was emotional as he was released to his family waiting outside the Western Regional Jail - openly crying with them.”
It’s not clear if the woman will face any charges.
She originally said a man of Middle Eastern descent had “attempted to grab her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and abduct her from the store" at the Huntington Mall. Barboursville Police arrested the 54-year-old engineer at the mall’s food court.
Zayan then faced an arraignment in which he was charged with felony attempted abduction, which is now expected to be dropped, and was jailed on a $200,000 bond.
The woman reported the incident Monday evening at the mall and said she pulled out a gun to scare away the man. She recanted that story on Tuesday.
The woman told investigators she was shopping with her daughter in the Old Navy store a little after 6 p.m. when she said a man approached them and tried to pull her daughter away by the hair.
Police, however, determined there were discrepancies between her account and surveillance footage from the store. When they asked her to come to the police station for a second interview to explain her story, she provided an account inconsistent with her original statement.
According to police, she “eventually told detectives that she might have misjudged the suspect’s actions, overreacted to the uninvited touching of her daughter, and misinterpreted the intentions of the male suspect.”
She said that “the more she thought about it, the more she realized it might have been a cultural misunderstanding and that the suspect might have just been patting her daughter on the head and smiling.”
Barboursville Police said it will be up to prosecutors to decide if she faces any charges.