Jewelry Store Co-Owner Accused of Molesting Customer

The co-owner of a Laguna Hills jewelry store was accused of molesting an 18-year-old customer.

Family members called deputies after the woman said the man repeatedly touched her in an inappropriate manner. Authorities arrested Fereydoun Ghavami, the 56-year-old co-owner of Royal Fine Jewelry.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ghavami was charged with one felony count of sexual penetration by force and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery.

Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said the woman was buying a necklace for her mother.

"As she was trying on the necklaces, the co-owner inappropriately touched her," Amormino said.

Bond was set Tuesday at $250,000.

Deputy District Attorney Tony Ferrentino asked Commissioner James S. Odriozola to set bail at $1 million, and for Ghavami to prove that the money is from a legal and legitimate sourcs before he uses it to post bond.

The normal amount of bail for the charges is $100,000, but Ferrentino said he sought the higher amount "based on danger to the community."

"The facts are still being investigated, but she was sexually assaulted in the store during store hours," Ferrentino said.

Odriozola set the amount at $250,000 and did not place any restriction on the source of the funds, defense attorney Nicholas Cameron said.

Ghavami, who was ordered to have no contact with the woman, was returned to jail pending the posting of bail.

"Despite the charges, once the evidence comes in, we're confident that no criminal charges will be placed upon Mr. Ghavami," Cameron said.

Cameron declined to elaborate, saying, "The evidence is very complicated."

Ghavami, who faces up to eight years in prison if convicted, previously owned Royal Jewelers at 32411 Golden Lantern St. in Dana Point, Emami said.

Investigators said there might be more victims. Anyone with information was asked to call 714-347-8794 or 714-647-7418.

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