AL leader sentenced to prison for sexual assault of black woman in USA

BanglaPress Desk
November 9, 2022
Photo: Bangla Press

Chhabed Sathee: The Boston Awami League leader Asif Ahmed Chowdhury alias Asif Babu (62) who was convicted last month of sexually assaulting a a black woman desperate to rent a room in Medford so her daughter wouldn’t have to change schools after they became homeless, was sentenced to 1½ to two years in state prison Tuesday (November 8) morning local time in the state of Massachusetts, United States.
Tthe learned judge of the Salem District Court Thomas Drechsler Pronounced the verdict. Two of the four charges were proved and he was sentenced to 1½ to 2 years in prison and was also ordered to be listed as a ‘sex offender.’
Asif Ahmed Chowdhury alias Asif Babu (Case Number 2077CR00310) was charged with four counts of physical assault and molestation of a black woman with verbal abuse. Two of these charges – 265/13H-3 A&B for indecent assault on person 14 years or over, 265/13A/B-1 A&B c265&13A (a) (imprisonment exceeding 100 days for misdemeanor) proved . He was acquitted of the remaining 2 charges 265/22/A-1 ‘Rape’ and 265/15 D/A-0 ‘Strangulation’ not proved. How such a characterless person led the community as the president of Bangladesh Association of New England (BANE) also came up in the arguments of the two lawyers. Three rows of Bangladeshi expatriates from Boston (all from Chattoram) were present in the courtroom during the pronouncement of the verdict. Convicted Asif Babu’s country house is in Kattali village of Pahartali police station of Chittagong district.

Photo: Julie Manganis/ The Salem News

On October 14, the learned judge Thomas Drechsler revoked the bail against him on the charges of physical assault and molestation against a black woman and sent Asif Ahmed Chowdhury alias Asif Babu (62) to jail on a deferred sentence. Some Bangladeshis living in Boston (Chottagram residents) became desperate to save the arrested Boston Awami League leader. Some officials on behalf of the Bangladeshi-run mosque and madrasa committee have sent a letter of recommendation to the court to reduce his sentence.
Although the incident happened while he was the president of Bangladesh Association of New England (BANE) based in Boston, New England, he continued his activities as the president of BANE by covering it up and avoiding the eyes of thousands of expatriates, which was against the constitution of the organization.

Asif Babu is a resident of Medford near Boston. Current vice president of New England (Boston) Awami League (Yusuf-Iqbal) group divided into two groups in Boston. If he had no previous connection with Awami League, he was introduced to New England (Boston) Awami League (Yusuf-Iqbal) group’s former general secretary Iqbal Yusuf (former Shibir worker). He is the former president of Bangladesh Association of New England (BANE), the founding president of New England (Boston) Sports Club and the former president of the New England branch of women’s organization Nandini. There were many allegations of molestation against him earlier. He was slapped in public by his own aunt mother-in-law for the crime of laying hands on her body for a few years. After the black woman was first arrested for attempted rape, his wife also reportedly slapped him and kicked him out of the house.
Some community leaders of Boston’s Bangladeshi community allegedly sent a letter to the Attorney General and Senator with the signatures of hundreds of ordinary people, collecting the signatures of ordinary people on an application form for reducing Asif Babu’s sentence to a lesser sentence or “community service”. These are former Awami League worker Abu Kamal Azad (Bar tender), Grocery shope owner Humayun Morshed, Shaheen Khan, Tapan Chowdhury, leader of New England Buddhist organization and BANE’s current president Parveen Chowdhury (wife of Asif Babu) and several businessmen.

Photo: Bangla Press

As the so-called community leaders of the community misled the common people and collected signatures of expatriates in support of him, there were various reactions among Bangladeshis in Boston. The leaders and workers of Awami League of America including New England (Boston) Awami League are ashamed of Asif Babu’s activities. Two weeks ago, after his arrest and the announcement of the verdict in the case, Yusuf Chowdhury, the former president of the New England Awami League, and Osman Gani, the former president of the other group, refused to comment on the matter. Also, attempts were made to contact former General Secretary Iqbal Yusuf and Suhas Barua on text message but they were not available. President of the United States Awami League Dr. Siddiqur Rahman and Acting General Secretary Abdus Samad Azad were sent a text message to ask for their response, they did not give any reply.

Asif Ahmed Chowdhury alias Asif Babu “took advantage” of that situation, Salem District Court Judge Thomas Drechsler said just before sentencing the Medford man, who prior to his conviction served as the president of the Bangladesh Association of New England.
“I take into account the many positive things that this defendant has done in his life and the fact that he has no record,” Drechsler said. “I also take into account the fact that the victim in this case was particularly vulnerable, not only physically, but financially.”
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall, who requested a three- to four-year state prison term for Chowdhury, recalled the woman’s testimony about how she lost her job due to the pandemic and could no longer pay rent. The woman, a Haitian immigrant and single parent, ended up in an emergency family shelter on Federal Street in Salem.
While her daughter was able to continue remote school in Medford, the victim feared the school would soon start hybrid classes or even bring the students back full-time. But all she could afford in Medford was a room.
She responded to Chowdhury’s ad on Facebook Marketplace for a single bedroom in a home he owned in Medford. On the evening of Sept. 17, 2020, Chowdhury showed up with paperwork. While they initially were outside, Chowdhury asked to use the bathroom, she said.
The victim “was a vulnerable person,” MacDougall said. She was a single mother, an immigrant and a woman of color, struggling to make a life for herself.
Chowdhury, the prosecutor said, “took advantage of that.”
The judge also heard from the woman’s daughter, now 11, who testified that on the night of the incident she woke up to the sound of “chaos,” peeked out of the bedroom and saw Chowdhury standing over her mother. Her frightened 911 call brought Salem police, who found Chowdhury near the entrance.
“I had a strong mother full of happiness,” the girl told the judge. “She was the mom who made you feel like you were living your best life even when you were struggling.” Now, her mother no longer smiles and fears going to public places, she said.
MacDougall read a statement from the woman, who said the attack left her traumatized and humiliated. She was forced to drop out of her MBA program.
“A thief crushed my dream and who I was,” she wrote in the statement.
Meanwhile, Chowdhury’s lawyers, Syrie Fried and Benjamin Brooks, urged Drechsler to impose a sentence of time served, including a few days after his arrest before he posted bail and the 3½ weeks he has been held since his conviction.
Fried called it “shock incarceration,” and told Drechsler that Chowdhury found himself surrounded by people “different” from himself and his family.
“The shock of this experience has been extreme,” Fried told the judge, noting that Chowdhury was at the jail during a disturbance that resulted in an officer being stabbed.
“Only negative things can result from further incarceration,” said Fried. She noted that the jury had cleared her client of two more serious charges, digital rape and strangulation.
In a sentencing memorandum, Fried emphasized Chowdhury’s own immigrant experience: He arrived from Bangladesh when he was 25, worked in restaurant and retail jobs and drove a cab and then became involved in real estate development, buying, renovating and then reselling or renting out properties in the Cambridge, Medford and Somerville area.
He and his wife have three children.
Three dozen family members and friends of Chowdhury attended Tuesday’s sentencing; Fried also submitted numerous letters of support, including one from the mayor of Cambridge.
But Drechsler took issue with assertions by Fried that her client, prior to the Sept. 17, 2020, incident, had only “positive and healthy relationships with women and never engaged in an inappropriate sexual relations with women.” Drechsler suggested that Chowdhury’s own testimony during the trial, when he insisted that he and the woman had engaged in an extramarital relationship, contradicts that.
Fried suggested that was simply a matter of having “faltered.” “He did succumb to temptation,” Fried told the judge.
Chowdhury also addressed the judge, telling him, “People love me; that’s why they’re here today. My life, I’m 62, my whole life is very clean, never any issues. Unfortunately this has happened. This is bad luck for me and others too.”
Chowdhury said he was “extremely, extremely sorry” for the woman and her family, who he wished “a happy, safe and healthy life.”
Because the sentence was to state prison, Chowdhury must serve at least 18 months before he can seek parole.
When released he will spend four years on supervised probation, with conditions that include a sex offender evaluation and treatment, registration as a sex offender and no contact with the woman or her family.