Dr. Mustafa Suleiman can't understand his terrible plight but he thinks it might have something to do with post 9-11 anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.
Sure, Suleiman had promised to kill his physician girlfriend, Sharrie Mills, in a 2005 squabble over babysitting arrangements for their young daughter, according to court records. But he didn't kill her, he points out. He grabbed her, knocked her to the floor and choked her neck. Arriving police witnessed evidence of the attack. They saw "redness" around the woman's throat. The downward spiral was just beginning.
After Suleiman threatened to kill Mills' mother, Orange County officials became convinced it was necessary to take legal action. A judge issued a three-year restraining order for Mills, told Suleiman to move out of the couple's home, stay at least 100 yards away and attend a 12-week batterer intervention program. The judge also restricted the doctor's access to his daughter to twice a month in supervised visits.
Months later, Mills returned to court. The visitation monitor, a retired deputy marshal, had quit because of wild threats. According to the former marshal, Suleiman had stated, "It amazes me that more judges are not killed" because "some of their decisions destroy people's lives. They make decisions without proof especially over child custody matters."
Suleiman, who refused to attend batterer intervention classes, also said that he planned to cut Mills' throat so that he could raise his daughter by himself and he blamed the restraining order on anti-Muslim sentiment following the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to the ex-marshal.
A judge discontinued Suleiman's visitation rights and a jury convicted him of domestic violence. His punishment? Attend a 52-week program for batterers, undergo probation for three years and serve 90 days in county jail.
But the plunge continued. After his release from custody, Suleiman once again ignored the order to attend classes and was found using cocaine. He eventually attended a domestic violence program, but was kicked out after he jumped from his chair, rushed the group facilitator and threw money at her face. Others in the class said they feared for their safety.
A displeased judge sent Suleiman back to jail for 10 days.
A probation officer recommended a psychiatric evaluation after further documenting Suleiman's obsession with Mills and his insistence that he was the victim in the case.
The free fall continued.
By September 2007, Suleiman had completed a rehab class but he continued to insist he'd been wronged. The California medical board didn't buy it. His license to practice was revoked. He lost his well-paying job.
Probation officers then caught the doctor using illegal amphetamines on five occasions, according to court records.
Last year, a judge issued a permanent restraining order against him, severed his ability to see his own daughter under any conditions and banned him from possessing any weapons.
Suleiman refused to accept the order. He appealed and this week a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana issued a ruling. A three-justice panel concluded that during the appeal process he'd been either dishonest or delusional about his conduct.
Contrary to Suleiman's claim otherwise, "Mills established a significant history of verbal abuse," the justice wrote, "including two threats to kill her" and Suleiman's "employer [had] documented his abusive behavior at work . . ."
The restraining order will remain effective, unless Dr. Suleiman can convince the state supreme court that an injustice has occurred.
(Periodically at OCWeekly.com, discover the depths of human depravity in Orange County, California.)
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--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly