Accused man returns to Egypt
HUNTINGTON — The man who was falsely accused of attempted child abduction has returned to Egypt after a visit to West Virginia that saw him charged with a felony, be faced with intense public backlash and then exonerated all in one week.
Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, 54, returned to his home in Alexandria, Egypt, at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday following 30 hours of flight time, said Michelle Protzman, his attorney.
Zayan was driven to a departing flight at Yeager Airport in Charleston on Saturday by Barboursville Assistant Police Chief Darren McNeil, who wanted to ensure Zayan faced no hassle, Protzman said.
Zayan is an engineer who was contracted to do work in West Virginia. On April 1, he was shopping for clothes for his daughter at the Huntington Mall when police said a woman concocted a story about an attempted child abduction against him.
The woman, Santana Renee Adams, 24, of Milton, told police officers that Zayan tried to take her 5-year-old daughter while inside a store at the mall. Adams said she yelled, pulled out a handgun and pointed it Zayan until he dropped her daughter and ran.
However, the store’s security footage was not consistent with Adams’ version of events, police said. Multiple employees inside the store said they did not witness any altercation, and police said Adams’ story changed several times.
An initial statement by Adams and her daughter was used as a basis to jail Zayan and charge him with felony attempted abduction by a person. By the next day, police and prosecutors determined Adams’ story to be unsupported.
Zayan’s bail was lowered and he was able to leave jail on a personal recognizance bond, which is a person’s promise to return to court without having to first pay money. The charge against Zayan was then dropped on April 4.
Protzman has since asked the charge be
expunged from Zayan’s record to prevent him from being flagged for extra security screenings or be placed on a watch list should he wish to return to West Virginia.
Zayan told reporters he hoped to return to the state despite the negative experience, thanking police officers for doing their job and getting to the truth of the matter. He said he had no interaction with Adams and would not recognize her or her daughter.
Adams has since been charged with a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an emergency. If convicted, she faces up to a $500 fine and no more than six months in jail.
She was arraigned in Cabell County Magistrate Court on Friday and later released in lieu of a $20,000 or 20 percent bail. A pretrial hearing for Adams has not been set.
Travis Crum is a reporter for the Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.