PHOENIX— In light of recent media coverage, initiated by a spurious article from the Southern Poverty Law Center, on the case of Tahnee Gonzalez and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Tempe Islamic Community Center (ICC) spokesperson, Kristy Sabbah issued the following response.
“My Office places a high emphasis on acting as a partner with our community—building and strengthening relationships with all who reside in our County,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Since the incident in March, I initiated contact with Imam Shqeirat, the staff and members of the Islamic Community Center and met with them on April 4 at the mosque to foster communication and understanding with their membership and leaders.
“It has been a priority for me and my Office to ensure that we have open communication and understanding so that the ICC and its members know they have input and participation in the prosecution of this case, as does any victim of crime. We sought to strengthen our relationship with this community to maintain mutual understanding and trust.
“To assert that this case is being handled in an unusual manner is irresponsible and provocative. Over the course of my years as County Attorney, there have been multiple instances where I have been directly involved in working out a just resolution to cases. The fact that I have chosen to not publicize those instances is to ensure that the emphasis remains on the pursuit of justice and not the pursuit of publicity. As a matter of policy, I am apprised of actions and potential offers in most high profile matters that come to this Office. This case is no exception.”
“The Islamic Community Center of Tempe is a welcoming community,” said ICC Spokesperson, Kristy Sabbah. “We open our doors to those of other faiths unfailingly. To see these women coming to the mosque with their children and saying such comments filled with hate and instilling such hate in their children was heartrending. With that being said, we're a forgiving community. We have been in close contact with Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and his office from the beginning. We are aware of the talks of a plea agreement. We would like to see some good come from this heinous attack. We are open to offering an informational and educational session to these two women, their children, and the community at large. We would also like to see community service hours served here at the Islamic Community Center in lieu of a restitution settlement."
On March 4, 2018, the two women filmed themselves entering the Islamic Community Center and while there used racial slurs and committed burglary. The case is in settlement negotiations including all parties.