Smoke shop assault, sexual battery case advances toward trial
Ranjit Singh touched the woman’s breast at his Combie Road smoke shop and she punched him, the detective testified Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court.
A day later, on June 23, a different woman told authorities the 62-year-old Singh offered her alcohol and pushed her into a back room, where he touched her over her clothes. That woman fled when another customer distracted him. Deputies soon had Singh in custody, Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brandon Corchero said.
“He was trying to offer her a beverage, a Coke, as well as a Crown Royal,” Corchero said. “She did not want the alcohol and she told him ‘No’ several times.”
The testimony came during a Tuesday preliminary hearing for Singh, who faces charges of felony assault with intent to commit oral copulation and misdemeanor sexual battery.
Judge Linda Sloven found enough probable cause to advance Singh’s case toward trial. She also declined to reduce his $100,000 bail. Singh remained jailed Tuesday afternoon.
“This is not just a one-time incident,” Sloven said when rejecting the argument about lowering bond. “I’m concerned about public safety.”
Detective Josephine Strachan testified that a Facebook post led another woman to contact authorities about Singh.
Authorities initially accused Singh on June 23 of assault with the intent to commit oral copulation. A different woman then contacted deputies with similar accusations, Strachan said.
On June 22 — the day before his arrest — a 21-year-old woman entered the smoke shop. Singh offered her alcohol, and the woman walked around a counter to take a shot of whiskey. As she drank, Singh touched her breast, the detective testified.
“She punched him,” Strachan added.
The woman left the store, later telling authorities she didn’t consider it a serious incident. However, she reconsidered after seeing the Sheriff’s Office post about his arrest the next day, Strachan said.
Under questioning by Singh’s attorney, Kulvinder Singh, Strachan said the woman told her Ranjit Singh has a reputation.
“He was known, according to her, of being inappropriate to women and asking women if they wanted to drink alcohol when they were in the store,” Strachan testified.
Officers arrested Ranjit Singh after a 20-year-old woman bought rolling papers from the smoke shop on June 23, Corchero said.
Ranjit Singh told the woman he couldn’t sell her the product because of her age. However, if she walked out of surveillance camera view, he would, the sergeant testified.
Ranjit Singh then pushed her into a back room. He offered her alcohol and she felt pressured to drink it. He began rubbing her, Corchero said.
“He wrapped his arms around her and was trying to kiss her,” he added.
At some point Ranjit Singh indicated he wanted oral sex. The woman fled when he became distracted by another customer. Authorities responded to the scene and the woman immediately identified Ranjit Singh, Corchero said.
The woman described the cup Ranjit Singh offered her, and deputies found a cup matching that description in the store. They also found an empty bottle of Crown Royal in a garbage bag on the floor, Strachan said.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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