Couple charged with agreeing to circumcise young girls

In January a news item was issued by CNN.com regarding a Los Angeles couple charged with female genital cutting. To phrase things a bit more strongly than does the article, this is the first known prosecution under the "Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act" which was introduced back in 1995, and passed in September 1996 with an effective date of March 30, 1997.

 CNN.com - Couple charged with agreeing to circumcise young girls - Jan. 10, 2004

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/West/01/10/mutilation.arrest.ap/index.html

Saturday, January 10, 2004 Posted: 8:37 AM EST (1337 GMT)

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    Los Angeles (California)
    LOS ANGELES, California (AP)—A couple was charged Friday with agreeing to circumcise two young girls in what is believed to be among the first cases filed under a federal law banning female genital mutilation.

Todd Cameron Bertrang, 41, and Robin Faulkinbury, 24, were arrested at their Canyon Country home after an FBI agent posing as a father of an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old contacted Bertrang via e-mail, then met with him to discuss the procedure.

Neither Bertrang nor Faulkinbury are accused of actually circumcising any minors.

During an October 2002 meeting, Bertrang allegedly told the agents that "we have to go into this realizing that to alter a female genitalia, in any fashion, under 18, carries a five-year immediate prison sentence," an arrest affidavit stated.

According to the criminal complaint, Bertrang is not licensed to practice medicine in California. On his Web site, Bertrang says he is an aficionado of body piercing and cutting who has performed body modifications on men and women.

Bertrang boasted to an undercover FBI agent that he had performed more female circumcisions than "anyone else in the Western Hemisphere," according to the affidavit.

Faulkinbury was identified to the agent as Bertrang's "slave" who assisted him in the procedures.

Female circumcision, which may involve the removal of the clitoris or all the external genitalia, is a traditional procedure in some African cultures but has been condemned by the United Nations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Lally said there was no mention made of cultural reasons for the surgeries Bertrang and Faulkinbury agreed to.

Bertrang and Faulkinbury were charged with conspiracy to violate the federal Prohibition of Female Mutilation Act of 1995, which outlaws the removal of certain sexual organs on girls under age 18 unless it is medically necessary and only then if performed by a licensed medical practitioner.

Lally said there never has been a decision or appeal in such a case, and he had not heard of any cases even being filed under the law.

Bertrang and Faulkinbury were held without bail, and their lawyers left the courtroom by a rear entrance and could not be reached for comment.

Each defendant could each face up to five years in prison if convicted.

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