DETROIT — A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on girls from a Muslim sect will remain in jail while she awaits trial after a judge on Wednesday expressed concern that she might try to flee the country.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman took note of the roughly three dozen people who were in court to support Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. But he said it’s a “double-edged sword,” suggesting they might help her try to leave the U.S.

“I’m not so sure I can come up with a solution,” Friedman said.

Nagarwala is accused of cutting at least six girls at a clinic in suburban Detroit, including two girls from Minnesota. The doctor denies that she committed a crime and says she performed a religious custom from her Muslim sect, the India-based Dawoodi Bohra.

She has been in custody without her passport since her arrest in April. Friedman has overruled another judge and granted bond to others who have been charged in the first U.S. case of its kind, including the owner of the clinic where the alleged acts occurred.

Nagarwala’s attorney, Shannon Smith, said the doctor intends to the fight the charges and wouldn’t run.

“It’s a fight about a sacred religious practice,” she said.

Some defendants awaiting trial typically are released with an electronic tether that tracks their movements. Friedman apparently wasn’t comfortable allowing one for Nagarwala, who is a U.S.-born citizen.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said Nagarwala could harm children if released from jail. The judge, however, doubted there would be a risk to the public.


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