CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – A detective in the child molestation case involving a former youth leader at Tampa’s Sligh Mosque reported in a court document that the investigation revealed other alleged victims in other Florida jurisdictions and in another state.
Ehab Ghoneim, 52, of Pinellas Park, is charged with three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation. Ghoneim is accused of drugging the children involved in the alleged incidents that investigators have said occurred in his Pinellas Park home.
According to a civil lawsuit filed against the former volunteer youth leader at Sligh Mosque, the incidents date back to 2013, and the criminal complaint affidavit alleges Ghoneim started grooming children in 2016.
Ghoneim has pleaded not guilty and the trial is scheduled to start on Nov. 1.
The criminal document alleges Ghoneim gave children a drug he referred to as the “million-dollar pill.”
“Ghoneim introduced [one victim] to a pill and said the pill will clear out [their] immune system and help [them] sleep,” the document said.
According to the filing, one of the incidents occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Pinellas Park Police Detective Dallas Petrovich, who prepared the affidavit, wrote that he “confirmed at least three more minor victims of unlawful sexual activity by Ghoneim in other jurisdictions in Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.”
A police spokesperson said Ghoneim has not been charged in the other jurisdictions. A review of several other jurisdictions did not reveal any other active cases.
On Monday morning, Ghoneim was in a Pinellas County courtroom for a brief pretrial hearing. Afterward, he reiterated his innocence.
“Not guilty,” he said as he walked toward his vehicle.
He was silent when asked if he had anything to say to the alleged victims and their families. He offered no details when questioned about facing charges in other jurisdictions.
“You can talk to my lawyer, sir,” Ghoneim said. His attorney has not responded to requests for comment.
Ghoneim was handcuffed by Cook County Deputies at Chicago’s O’Hare airport last August after he was extradited from Egypt.
Sam Badawi, the attorney representing John Doe No. 1 in the $5 million civil case, said last year he suspected the number of victims will reach “double-digits.”
The complaint detailed the teenager’s allegations.
“[Ghoneim] became very close to John Doe No. 1,” the lawsuit states, further alleging the suspect was trying to gain the family’s confidence and trust.
The lawsuit claims the trust was betrayed on the night of a basketball event when Ghoneim asked a “bunch of kids to sleep over” at his house. According to the filing, Doe was allegedly invited into the “master bedroom” that night.
“During his sleep, [Ghoneim] initiated inappropriate sexual contact,” the lawsuit alleges.
The mosque has not responded to multiple requests for comment but congregation leaders have denied knowing anything about allegations against Ghoneim before the investigation started.
Mosque leaders have also said they will cooperate with investigators.
“Islamic Society of Tampa Bay is taking a position to allow the authorities to take every opportunity to complete their investigation and uncover the truth,” a statement released last summer said.