By Justin Swanson | LB Indy
Saeid Maralan, the former manager of Laguna Beach rug store Sirous and Sons, is due in Newport Beach’s Harbor Court for a preliminary hearing today, Friday, March 8, for 14 criminal counts involving various sexual abuses, to all of which he has earlier entered not guilty pleas.
Maralan, a registered sex offender then living in Laguna Niguel, was initially arrested in September 2011 following a police investigation of an allegation made by a teenage intern that Maralan exposed her to pornography in the Laguna Beach store.
Soon after Maralan posted $500,000 bail, he was re-arrested when more victims came forward. In total, 11 women accused Maralan of various sex crimes, allegations that include penetration with a foreign object, indecent exposure, rape, and most commonly, sexual battery.
After Maralan’s second arrest, detectives argued for a higher bail amount because they considered him a flight risk due to his frequent trips to Iran. Between his arrests, investigators found that Maralan had removed the recording from the store’s surveillance cameras, which was found in his possession when he was arrested, according to court records. Some victims alleged that Maralan turned off the surveillance system before assaulting them, according to documents in the court record.
Bail was set for $1 million, which Maralan met.
Since then, Maralan’s defense attorney, Orange’s John Barnett twice requested to postpone preliminary hearings to assess evidence, obtain English translations of Farsi statements and because emails between Maralan and his victims had yet to be obtained, court records show.
Jennifer Walker is the prosecuting attorney.
At the same time, Maralan is also facing a civil lawsuit, filed on October 2011 on behalf former employee Alana Munoz, 20, by Santa Ana attorney John T. Yasuda. Yasuda’s suit alleges Maralan subjected his client to imprisonment, sexual harassment, and assault and battery among nine complaints.
Munoz is not one of the 11 victims involved in the criminal suit. The defunct rug store Sirous and Sons is also a named plaintiff in the case, as the store’s owner is accused of negligence for hiring a known sex offender without taking “reasonable precautions.”