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Jeweler arrested for assaulting customer

October 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local jeweler is behind bars, accused of sexually assaulting a young customer. Investigators say there could be other victims.Fereydoun Ghavani, 56, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a customer at his jewelry store in Laguna Hills. Investigators say it happened when an 18-year-old customer wanted to buy a necklace for her mother on Friday.

"As she was trying the necklaces on, he reached down and inappropriately touched her on the chest. He then stuck his hand in her pants and inappropriately touched her," said Jim Amormino, Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

Investigators say it was all caught on videotape.

The Royal Jewelers was closed on Tuesday, but ABC7 found some information about the store online. The suspect calls himself "Fred the Friendly Jeweler." Those who know him aren't sure what to call him now.

"No I certainly didn't expect this at all. Not at all, this is very shocking," said Ronnie Miller, a store owner.

Nikie Paik owns a store next door. She says Ghavani has been near her location for seven years and was always very professional.

"It's very surprising, yes, very surprising. I thought he was [a] businessman," said Paik.

"Well, yeah, you know ... I can't picture him like that, but I ... I don't know," said a man who also works next door and calls himself "Ignacio."

Orange County Sheriff's investigators say this may not be the first incident. Authorities are asking anyone with more information, or who believes they have been a victim, to call them.

"Sometimes when things happen like this, young females are afraid or embarrassed to come forward," said Amormino.

Ghavani faces charges of sexual assault and sexual battery. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.


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