Five women say Maksud Mahbub raped or molested them. He says he didn't.
Maksud Mahbub was a man with a plan, prosecutor Yasmin Mullings told a jury in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday. He would approach intoxicated and vulnerable young women outside bars in Minneapolis' Warehouse District. He would offer to help. Then he'd take them to his home and have sex with them.
Five of those women have accused Mahbub of criminal sexual assault. Two testified at his weeklong trial that they passed out or fell asleep and awoke to him raping them. Three others said they awoke to him groping them.
The jury began its deliberations about 1 p.m. Tuesday and must decide whether he is guilty or not guilty of three counts of third-degree and three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual assault. The charges allege that he used force and/or knew or should have known the women were physically unable and mentally incapable of consenting.
Defense attorney Earl Gray reminded the jury that picking up women and having sex with them isn't illegal. Even the evidence, such as the panties of one of the women found in Mahbub's closet, don't mean a crime was committed.
"The government, the state, has labeled my client a predator," Gray said. Yet the ability of five witnesses to remember what happened "is minimal to none."
Although Mullings told the jury to look at Mahbub's alleged pattern, Gray told the panel that they must consider the evidence separately in each case.
Both attorneys went over each of the five cases in their closing arguments:
• The first woman to report the alleged assault to police went drinking with a female friend on Sept. 4, 2009. She had about five beers and six shots of liquor. She lost track of her friend and called her boyfriend and a male coworker/friend for a ride home. The next thing she remembers, she testified, she was in Mahbub's car, then at his townhouse in Shoreview. She fell asleep fully clothed in his bedroom and woke up naked with him on top of her, she said. Although she managed to push him off twice, he raped her. Mahbub testified that he never touched her.
• Mahbub admitted that he told another woman there was an after-party at his house after she got separated from her friends who were on a party bus on Jan. 6, 2008. She agreed to go with him, but became nervous when there was nobody else at his home. She said she fell asleep on his bed and awoke to find him groping her breasts and genital area over her clothes. Mahbub said the woman never went into his bedroom and neither did he.
• Another woman said she was "very drunk" when she became separated from her friends on July 4, 2009. Mahbub offered to help her find an ATM. Instead, he took her to his house and told her to go to sleep upstairs. The woman said he molested her as she slept and took the battery out of her cell phone so she couldn't call for help. A battery that matched the woman's was found at Mahbub's home and fit into the woman's cell phone in court. Charges: one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
• Another woman ended up at Mahbub's house on Aug. 29, 2009, after she had had eight to 10 drinks in about three hours. Mahbub testified that he kissed her a couple of times, then stopped when she said no. The woman said he molested her. Charge: fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
• The last of the five women said she had two or three drinks on July 18, 2008, and someone may have slipped a date-rape drug into her drink while she was in the bar. She was "woozy" by the time she met Mahbub outside and ended up at his house. She became violently ill, the woman said. Later, Mahbub raped her and took pictures of her. Mahbub said they had consensual sex, twice, and that she broached the idea of taking photos. Mahbub drove her home the next morning.
Gray told the jury that investigator Julie Urban was "out to get" Mahbub. She never talked to any of the alleged victims' friends and never asked "the hard questions."
Mullings told the jury that none of the women knew each other and none had an ulterior motive in accusing him.
"The only thing they did wrong was to be where Maksud Mahbub came to look for a target," she said.
"Only two people know what happened," Mullings said. "You've heard from both people. You get to decide what you believe."
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992