Prosecutor expected to release more info in false abduction case Thursday

April 4, 2019

BARBOURSVILLE — More information is expected Thursday, April 4, about charges for both a man falsely accused of attempting to abduct a child and the woman who falsely accused him, Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers said Wednesday.

Barboursville police arrested Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan on Monday evening after a woman claimed he grabbed her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and pulled her away, only stopping after she pulled a gun on him, while inside a store in the Huntington Mall. During further investigation, the woman’s story changed and she eventually conceded that it may have just been a misunderstanding.

Zayan, 54, an engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who is in the area for work, was released from jail Tuesday night on a personal recognizance bond, said the Cabell County Court clerk. News outlets report he cried as he greeted family members.

The county is also holding Zayan’s passport, and he is not allowed to leave the state or country until the matter is resolved.

Barboursville Sgt. Anthony Jividen said a prosecutor will have to decide whether to charge the woman instead. He said while no witnesses could be found, mall surveillance video showed inconsistencies in the woman’s original statement.

Jividen said the woman later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man’s intentions. Zayan doesn’t speak English, and police say he may have simply been patting the girl on the head.

Jividen said the prosecutor also would have to determine whether Zayan would face a potential battery charge because of “the uninvited touching of a child. Even though there was an overreaction by the mother, it was not completely baseless.”

Questions have also been raised if the woman could even have a gun inside the mall. Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the mall, said signs are posted at mall entrances that state “possession of weapons is prohibited except as authorized by state and federal law.” Because West Virginia law allows the concealed carry of a weapon with or without a permit, Bell said the mall simply abides by that law.

“We believe, however, that owners of firearms should be responsible in their use,” Bell said. “It is probably true that the woman involved in Monday night’s incident did not use the best judgment.”

Prosecutors were still discussing the case Wednesday and were not ready to release more information.

Calls to a number listed for the woman were not returned Wednesday.