OCTOBER 7--The Middle Eastern leader set to host the upcoming America's Cup yacht race was once arrested for sexually assaulting a housekeeper at a luxury hotel adjacent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The previously unreported bust of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, 53, occurred in June 2005, according to Rochester Police Department documents. The sheikh is the crown prince and effective ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Saud Mugshots - The Smoking Gun
About nine months after the sheikh's arrest, prosecutors declined to pursue the case "due to a lack of probable cause," according to police records. The prosecutor's file on the case has been purged, and only a computer entry noting that "prosecution declined" remains, according to an Olmsted County Attorney employee. One investigator involved in the case told TSG that they believed Sheikh Saud's status as a head of state--not to mention his UAE domicile--played a role in charges not being pursued.
The sheikh, pictured above in an Olmsted County Sheriff's Office mug shot, was arrested for felony criminal sexual conduct following an incident in his penthouse at the upscale Broadway Plaza, which is favored by extended-stay patients at the Mayo Clinic. A housekeeping supervisor told police that she was cleaning the suite (which rents today for nearly $5000 a night and is owned by a wealthy UAE businessman) when Sheikh Saud asked if he could read her palm. The woman agreed. "The suspect held my hands and rubbed them as he told me about my past," she told cops.
After about 15 minutes, the woman told investigators, the sheikh "told me that he needed to rub my neck to get a better reading." In her June 10 interview, the alleged victim--whose name was redacted from documents provided to TSG by Rochester police--said that she did not know why she agreed to the neck rub, "but I did."
As Sheikh Saud rubbed her neck, he "began to breath heavy and in my ear," the woman told Officer Julie Claymon. He then allegedly "grabbed my shoulders with one hand and proceeded to put his hand up my shirt and under my bra. He began rubbing my breasts." The woman said that she told him to stop, but he continued to fondle her. "He then pushed me down on the couch on my side and put his hand down my pants," she told Claymon. Pinned to the couch, the woman said that the Arab ruler then digitally penetrated her and said, "Your pet's wet."
The woman said that Sheikh Saud "let me up" after she said that "people would be looking for me." Following the 45-minute penthouse encounter, the woman immediately told a co-worker what transpired. That employee told police that the woman was "shaken up and very upset" and said that "the man in 2601 had sexually assaulted her. She said he had felt her breasts and digitally penetrated her vagina."
The woman was interviewed by cops at St. Marys Hospital, where a sexual assault kit was completed and later turned over to police.
When investigators confronted Sheikh Saud, he claimed in a taped interview that, "I read her palms and then she left," adding that "I only touched her by giving her a hug." When asked if he touched the woman's breasts, the sheikh "was quiet for a long time," necessitating a repeat of the question. "Yes I touched her breasts," he admitted. "What is she saying, that I attacked her?" He then claimed, "we were hugging and then I asked her if it was okay if I touched her breasts and she said yes." The hugging, he said, took place on the couch, where he had been rubbing the woman's neck.
The sheikh, police noted, had originally denied massaging the woman. "I never touched her vagina, is she saying I did that," Sheikh Saud asked. "I only touched her butt on the outside of her pants. I never put my hands down her pants." He denied pinning the housekeeper to the couch and claimed that the hotel employee "agreed to the things we were doing."
In her report, Claymon noted that Sheikh Saud "changed his story many times," and "would add a little bit more to it" during police questioning.
At the conclusion of his interview, the sheikh was arrested. He was handcuffed, placed into a patrol car, and transported to the Adult Detention Center, where he was booked on two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct. His contention that he could not be arrested because of his diplomatic status was rejected by a county prosecutor consulted by police. Records show that Sheikh Saud was released from jail after spending a weekend in custody (he apparently returned immediately to the UAE).
While Sheikh Saud has lauded his emirate's selection at the site for the February 2010 America's Cup as a "great moment for us," critics have raised safety concerns due to Ras al-Khaimah's proximity to Iran and the activities of al-Qaeda terrorists in the region. The American team participating in the race is backed by software billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder and chief executive of Oracle Corporation, who has launched a court challenge seeking to have the yacht race moved to Spain. (10 pages)