When 18-year-old Yaman Sankari arrived home from a date on the morning of Aug. 4, her family, all natives of Syria, welcomed her in the most disturbing way imaginable.
Her father, grandmother, grandfather, two uncles and an aunt began punching and kicking the teenager, beating her until she had to be hospitalized, according to multiple affidavits filed in Metro General Sessions court.
"The family members were asking [Yaman] whether she was having sexual relations with her boyfriend," say the affidavits. "Family members were trying to 'beat a confession' out of her." When the girl admitted to having sex with her boyfriend—28-year-old Khalat Haji—the beating continued until she had to be taken to the hospital with "minor yet visible injuries" to her face. "All of them were beating her at some point," say the affidavits.
At the hospital—Southern Hills Medical Center, off of Nolensville Road—police say that Yaman's father, Mohamed Sankari, and her grandmother, Fatima Chabarek, claimed that it was Haji who beat her up. They also said that he raped her. The teenager denied that either of those things took place, according to the affidavits.
The entire extended family (all six of them) were placed in handcuffs and charged with domestic assault. They made bail and will go before a judge on Sept. 10.
Until the beating, Yaman lived with her family on Old Hickory Boulevard, near Hillsboro Pike in Brentwood. Her father, who runs a convenience store on Lafayette Street, denies that he or any member of the family assaulted his daughter.
The day of the alleged assault, Yaman left the house at 6 a.m. to be with Haji and returned four hours later. In an interview with the Scene, Mohamed says that his daughter appeared to be "in shock" when she walked in the door that morning. He grabbed her and "jerked her.... I just brought her to me and said, 'Where you been?' She lives under my roof man, she just turned 18." He later adds, "Nobody leaves home at 6 o'clock in the morning to go somewhere with a friend."
Yaman admitted to having sex with Haji, and her father became upset. "She's my baby," he says. "She was a virgin.... That's not the way I raised [her.]"
Mohamed explains that a piece of furniture in his home may be responsible for the marks on Yaman's face. "I think she got hit by the door or something," he says when asked how his daughter was injured. "You know, little, little, little, very minor damage, and the police make a big issue out of it. It was on her forehead, just next to her eye."
When he's done blaming inanimate objects for his daughter's injuries, Mohamed turns to the subject of her boyfriend. Mohamed says that Haji is Kurdish and insinuates that he may be involved in gang activity. "There's Kurdish mafia going on in Nashville," he says. Calls to Haji were not returned.
Mohamed suspects that Haji, raped and beat Yaman. "She says that he gave her some tea and then he raped her...and I think he threatened her or something because she wouldn't even press charges on him."
In the police affidavit, Yaman denies that her boyfriend raped her or had anything to do with the alleged assault.
When asked why his daughter would press charges against the entire family if it was her boyfriend who attacked her, Mohamed Sankari says, "I told you she was in a state of shock. She didn't even know what the hell she was talking about."
Mohamed adds that Haji has called his home and threatened him, though the threats don't seem that unreasonable, given the assault allegations. "He says, if you do anything to [Yaman] I'll call the police," the father says.
Mohamed hasn't seen his daughter since the family was incarcerated last week. He says that the arrest was extremely embarrassing. The cops came to his Brentwood home and took his family into custody, "and you know, I live in a nice neighborhood man...for [the police] to come up there in front of everybody..." his voice trails off in frustration.
"It's a messed up system," he says of justice in the United States. "You try to discipline your family and this is what you get for it."