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|Ayinde O. Chase - AHN News Editor|
Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States (AHN) - A music teacher has been found guilty of sexually abusing a a young music student at a Hindu temple.
Sandeep Munshi, 49, was renowned as a tabla drum teacher On Monday a jury found Munshi guilty on six felony counts. They included sexual battery on a child, molestation and lewd or lascivious exhibition.
The battery charge alone carries a mandatory term of life in prison.
According to police, the abuse began when the girl was 10 years old. The teacher would force her to have sex and masturbated in front of her weekly during their lessons.
The girl, now 14, testified in court that she believed no one would believe her if she reported the abuse.
When the girl and her family came forward in July 2009 and told members of the South Florida Hindu Temple in Southwest Ranches, they were shunned by the community.
The trial forced the girl to recount her shocking abuse. "You have every reason to believe this child," prosecutor Mary Ann Braun said in her closing argument. "She lost her innocence and then she had to come here and talk about the worst thing that happened to her in a courtroom full of people."
Jurors heard from the girl's older cousin and how she tried to intervene and stop Munshi's unwanted advances to her younger cousin. They also saw photos of music room with splatters of semen that experts said matched Munshi's DNA.
Also played was a two-hour-long phone conversation between the girl's mother and Munshi with him finally admitting “Whatever she says is correct…and I apologize for it."
His defense attorney, Jeffrey Voluck, called his client "a guru, a holy man, a strict and serious teacher," who was wrongfully accused by two close cousins.
Sentencing has been set for July 15. Munshi previously rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for 15 years.
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