Police with Elgin's Major Investigation Division said they started investigating Saleem after a woman contacted authorities in December, and told them the abuse happened while she was working at the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin in April of 2014.
Saleem, president and founder of Elgin's Institute of Islamic Education, is a prominent figure in the South Asian Muslim community in the United States. After the unnamed woman stepped forward to accuse him of abuse, three other women told Elgin police that he had abused them when they were children.
One of those women, who asked to be identified only by the name “Sandy,” told Al Jazeera that Saleem abused her when she was 10 or 11.
“I thought, this is a revered man,” she said. “What he’s saying, what he’s doing? He loves me, that’s how he’s showing that he loves me."
Another of the accusers, who asked to be identified as “Amber,” said she was also abused as a child.
“We were sitting there reading the Quran, sitting on the floor in close proximity and he touched me inappropriately,” she said. “And then it shifted to the bed, where he would take my hand and make me touch his private part, and I knew at that point it was wrong and disgusting."
The four women have also filed a lawsuit against Saleem in civil court. Amber said the women came forward in order to send a message.
“As far as the community, I want them to know there should be a zero tolerance policy,” she told Al Jazeera. “Yes, we are Muslims, we are all pious. Just because we are Muslims does not make us immune to this kind of activity."
Al Jazeera and wire services