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Clerk offers to secretly sell tobacco to 20-year-old, then assaults her, Calif. cops say

A California smoke shop clerk is accused of sexually assaulting a young woman after luring her to the store’s back room with the promise of tobacco products.

The 20-year-old woman went to Hot Spot Smoke Shop near Lake of the Pines on Sunday to buy tobacco products, but wasn’t old enough, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Clerk Ranjit Singh, 62, told the woman she wasn’t legally allowed to buy the products, but said he’d sell her the tobacco in the back of the store where surveillance cameras weren’t recording, deputies said.

When Singh and the woman reached the back of the store, he “forcibly pushed the victim into a bathroom and insisted she drink a glass of hard alcohol,” deputies said.

Singh is accused of touching the woman and himself “in an inappropriate manner” and asking the woman to “orally copulate him,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

The woman escaped Singh when a customer walked into the shop, deputies said.

Singh was detained and interviewed by deputies, and then arrested on charges of sexual battery, kidnapping and false imprisonment, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies explained that “the charge of kidnapping in this case relates to the movement of the victim, against her will, into a location that would cause her to be in more danger.”

Nevada County jail records said Singh was booked on Sunday just before midnight and was held on $112,000 bail. He’s a resident of Roseville, according to jail records.

Nevada County authorities encouraged anyone with experience in a similar situation to report the incident by calling the Major Crimes Unit at 530-265-1263.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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