Since moving here from Arizona in early 2011, Ibrahim Adam has professed his love and desire to wed four different women, landing himself in jail on stalking charges each time.
Adam is expected to stand trial later this month for allegedly stalking a fifth woman — the defense attorney who represented him in a felony stalking case last year.
Even before he pleaded guilty in that case, involving a young woman who sold Adam an iPad at Bellevue Square, the 41-year-old handyman had allegedly shifted his attentions to his attorney and “became obsessed” with her, according to charging documents.
The attorney, a 50-year-old Seattle woman, withdrew from the case before Adam was sentenced to six months in jail and released for time served in August 2013, court records show.
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Between September and February, Adam called the attorney’s office hundreds of times, leaving messages saying he was going to marry her and that she needed to convert to Islam for them to wed, charging papers say.
Then he began showing up at her house, the papers say.
He was arrested Feb. 24 and is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail — a high bail amount usually reserved for defendants accused of murder, rape and other violent crimes.
Based on his limited criminal history, Adam would likely face a sentence of 12 to 14 months if convicted of felony stalking, according to the state’s sentencing guidelines.
But King County prosecutors have also alleged four aggravators — including that the case involving the attorney is part of an ongoing pattern of psychological abuse involving multiple victims and multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time. If the aggravators are proved to a jury, it would be grounds for an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range.
In a handful of letters written to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg in March, Adam, who is from East Africa, claimed the felony stalking charge filed against him is the result of a cultural misunderstanding, court records show. But he also repeatedly stated his desire to make his former defense attorney his wife:
“I respect her so much and I love her so much. I would like to marry her,” Adam wrote.
John Hicks, Adam’s defense attorney, declined to comment extensively because the felony stalking case is pending. But he did say: “There is a culture gap here that I wish the state would appreciate a little more.”
Court records show that Adam has undergone three mental-competency evaluations in connection with his earlier stalking cases, and each time psychiatrists found no evidence of cognitive problems, psychosis or mood disorders.
The evaluations include biographical information self-reported by Adam: Born in Eritrea, Adam and his family moved to Egypt, where Adam completed high school and military training. He worked on boats on the Red Sea and returned to Eritrea in 1996. He has two daughters living there.
While he told one evaluator his wife had died, another report says Adam has never married and that his daughters live with their mother, the records show.
It appears Adam, who has a green card, moved to Arizona sometime in 2005 and was convicted in 2008 of possession of burglary tools, the records say. Asked why he moved to Seattle, he told a psychiatrist in 2011 he was charged in Arizona with telephone harassment involving a woman he worked with, but court records don’t indicate if he was convicted.
Between February 2011 and September 2012, four women — including the saleswoman at Bellevue Square — made numerous reports to Seattle and Bellevue police about Adam, and each were granted protection orders against him, court records show. All four reported Adam phoning them dozens of times, following them and trying to give them unwanted gifts, according to the records.
“His persistent behavior makes me worry he will not stop harassing me,” a saleswoman at Pacific Place Mall wrote in her March 2011 petition for a protection order.
In another case in February 2012, a Seattle police detective wrote in charging papers: “Victim has now changed her routes to work, vehicle she drives, and (is) afraid to walk to her bus stops.”
It is unclear from court records if Adam wasn’t charged in one woman’s 2011 case or if her case was combined with a second victim’s case, also in 2011.
Adam, who has two convictions for gross misdemeanor stalking and one for felony stalking, allegedly escalated his behavior with his former defense attorney after six months of repeatedly calling her office and once following her to her parked car.
“She did absolutely nothing to imply she ever had any interest in interacting with the defendant beyond providing professional legal representation,” a King County deputy prosecutor wrote in charging documents in February.
On Feb. 17, Adam left an envelope in the attorney’s home mailbox that was “stuffed with literature explaining the procedures for women to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim man,” charging papers say.
Two days later, the attorney left work and found a bag on the windshield of her car; inside were love notes, a pair of thong underwear and a lace negligee, the papers say.
Early on Feb. 20, Adam went to the woman’s house three times, knocking on her door and pressing his face to her bedroom window, according to the charges. She called police each time, but Adam evaded officers, the charges say.
After Adam showed up the second time that morning, the attorney called a male friend to stay with her, both of them arming themselves with baseball bats, according to the charges. Seeing the man asleep on the couch around 4:30 a.m., Adam broke a window in a jealous rage, later leaving the attorney voice messages threatening to kill the man, charging papers say.
The woman later arranged to meet Adam at a coffee shop in downtown Seattle, “where many of her male colleagues were staged to watch out for her safety and phone 911 when the defendant arrived,” the papers say. “The defendant initially cooperated with his arrest … but just outside the door, broke free of the arresting officer’s grip to try escaping instead of getting into the police car.
“He was immediately shoved to the ground and did not get away,” charging papers say.
News researchers Gene Balk and Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org