DA will not retry motel clerk for attempted rape

Navjit Singh

A former South San Francisco motel clerk accused of attempting to rape a housekeeper will not be retried by prosecutors who said Tuesday the man’s hung jury in favor of acquittal shows an unlikelihood of a future conviction.

Last week, jurors deadlocked 8-4 in the trial of Navjit Singh, 36, and a mistrial was declared.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the victim refused to endure a third trial.

“That along with the fact of the very negative outcome from our perspective is reason not to spend taxpayer dollars on another trial,” Wagstaffe said.

The trial was the second to reach deliberations; the first ended with a conviction that was set aside and the next declared a mistrial during jury selection.

“They did the right thing,” defense attorney John Halley said of the jury’s deadlock. “And the court did the right thing previously in throwing out the original conviction.”

Prosecutors argued that on Sept. 9, 2011, front desk clerk Singh entered a Ramada Inn room where the Spanish-speaking maid was cleaning a bathtub. After a verbal exchange, he is accused of grabbing her, putting his hands down her shirt and forcing her onto a bed and pulling off her clothing. After a few minutes of the victim screaming, Singh reportedly got up and apologized with his hands in a praying pose before returning to the front desk. The woman told another maid but asked her not to tell the manager and police because she was afraid of losing her job and being deported back to El Salvador.

Halley said he doesn’t really have an answer for why the woman accused his client of attempted assault.

“I don’t know why she said what she said but it wasn’t true and now this case is over,” Halley said.

In November 2012, a jury in his first trial deliberated three days before convicting Singh of attempted rape, assault with the intent to rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment. The following April, Judge Jonathan Karesh heard the defense argument for a new trial on several grounds. Karesh didn’t find any prosecutorial misconduct or defense incompetence but felt that the race issue had deprived Singh of due process and set aside the verdicts.

In the second trial, Singh did not testify.

He has been free from custody on $100,000 bail.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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