Mom says Clayton rape suspect needs help

Salih Talha Mahdi’s actions were his mother’s greatest fears, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News.

“This is the one thing we didn’t want to happen,” Haleemah Rabia said of her 24-year-old son. “We didn’t want him to hurt somebody.”

Police say Mahdi walked to the Magnolia Woods Apartment complex on Lake Harbin Road near Morrow around 3 p.m. Tuesday and told a woman working in the leasing office that he wanted to view an apartment. The woman took him to see a model unit.

Once inside the unit, police said, Mahdi asked the woman to have sex with him.

When she refused, he punched her in her right eye, fracturing her eye socket, then took her keys to keep her from escaping, police said.

According to police documents, Mahdi raped the 31-year-old woman twice, then forced her into a closet and barricaded the door with a dresser.

A maintenance man saw him leaving the apartment and confronted him, and Mahdi allegedly started running. The men running were reported by an officer nearby, and Mahdi was eventually caught, Morrow Police Sgt. Larry Oglesby said.

“He was breathing heavy and sweaty, and wearing a jacket too heavy for this kind of weather,” Oglesby said.

Morrow police turned the suspect over to Clayton County police, and Mahdi confessed Tuesday, according to an arrest warrant affidavit acquired by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rabia said her son was diagnosed in 2007 with paranoid schizophrenia and has a history of acting out – often, criminally – when he is not consistently taking his medication.

“I was on my way [Wednesday morning] to the Clayton courthouse to convince a judge to have him committed when I learned about this arrest,” she said. “My son is sick, and he needs help.”

The man's arrest record includes a 2010 arrest for sexual battery and indecent exposure in an incident involving a female customer at a Wal-Mart in Morrow, and a 2008 arrest on charges of simple battery and making terroristic threats for allegedly threatening to beat his mother and an aunt with a baseball bat.

Last year, following the 2010 arrest, a judge ordered Mahdi to be transferred to Georgia Regional Hospital for three months for mental evaluation. But he was eventually returned to the Clayton County jail, court records show.

Rabia said she has been trying to seek long-term help for her son from Clayton County since his diagnosis.

“Since 2007, it has been a complete circus of him getting out of jail and going back into jail … with no long-term treatment,” she said. “I want the victim to know that I sought, through Clayton County, everything to keep my son ... to hospitalize him to get him the help he needs. The system has failed me and many, many families."

Rabia apologized to the victim and her family and said she hopes to find permanent treatment solution for her son.

“I’m extremely sad and sorry for the victim and her family,” she said. “What I want to happen is my son to receive proper treatment.”

Mahdi is scheduled to be in court again June 21.

Police asked anyone with information on the suspect or other sexual assaults in the area to call Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404 577-8477.

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