In August, an eight-year veteran Renton police officer texted a woman he claimed was a confidential informant to meet him at a neighborhood park, saying he needed to discuss a case with her. When she arrived, Officer Tanuj Soni was waiting for her at a picnic table with wine, and he encouraged her to drink so he could “get the answers he needed for the case,” according to the investigator's report. The report also stated that the two drank in the park for several hours.
From Bad to Worse
As if day drinking with an “informant” wasn't bad enough, Officer Soni then asked the woman to undress and say things sexually explicit to him. The woman later told investigators that she was too scared to say no because Soni was working on a case involving her and her ex. The woman complied with Soni's request, but then he started slapping and spanking her. He also began describing a sexually-explicit act he said he was going to perform on her.
The woman told Soni to stop but he did not, so she ran away and knocked on the door of a house nearby. The homeowner called the Des Moines police. When they found Soni, he was "heavily intoxicated and wearing an inside-out t-shirt and shorts and no shoes." Soni told the police that the victim had just “shown up” and that they were just hanging out, but detectives were later able to find the text messages he had sent to the victim.
Soni was immediately arrested and booked in King County Jail. He was charged with fourth-degree assault of sexual motivation, and his bail was set at $50,000. He was also placed on administrative leave and the Renton Police Department began an internal investigation. Deputy Chief John Schuldt released a statement regarding the incident, saying, that he was confident in the “judicial system to conduct a thorough investigation resulting in an appropriate outcome,” and that they would cooperate with Des Moines Police Department, which arrested Soni. On September 26, 2019, Soni resigned from the Renton Police Department.
Fourth-Degree Assault of Sexual Motivation
A regular fourth-degree assault charge can have a sexual motivation element added to it if, according to RCW 9.94A.835,
(1) The prosecuting attorney shall file a special allegation of sexual motivation in every criminal case, felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor, other than sex offenses as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 when sufficient admissible evidence exists, which, when considered with the most plausible, reasonably foreseeable defense that could be raised under the evidence, would justify a finding of sexual motivation by a reasonable and objective fact finder.
The charge against Soni is a gross misdemeanor and could carry a fine up to $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
Defense Attorney Steve Karimi
If you have been betrayed by a member of law enforcement that led to you being falsely accused of something you didn't do, you need a strong defense to prove your innocence. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who now works on the other side, defending everyday people against criminal charges. Call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at 206-621-8777 today or fill out a contact form to get started on reclaiming your life.