Charges dismissed against woman who said she was practicing religious custom; police said she refused to leave restroom

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio-- The Fox 8 I-Team has learned charges filed against a homeless woman have been dismissed.

Ameni Bejaoui, 40, was arrested April 19 at the Sheetz on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after a Sheetz employee called police for a welfare check on a customer in the restroom. She was due in court May 6 but, according to Berea Municipal Court, the charges were dismissed April 30.

The prosecutor did not return a call asking why the charges were dismissed.

Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender returned an email saying he was out of the office but would discuss the case when he returned later this week.

The Strongsville police report states the woman was "improperly using the women's restroom." Officer Marianna Hansen wrote in her report that she asked the woman what she was doing and the woman said "showering."

The woman later told a police sergeant that she is Muslim and brought a container of water into the restroom to wash after using the bathroom. The sergeant said he was familiar with the custom.

Paul Cristallo, a civil rights attorney, said he is glad the charges were dismissed.

"I am surprised that they dismissed it but happy they did," Cristallo said. "It was the right thing to do from the beginning because she hadn't broken any laws and this is really a situation where she should have never been arrested in the first place."

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