waterpark update

Guests of the Golfland Sunsplash Water Park in Roseville, Calif., are shown on the popular Storm Rider attraction. Seven Indian American men, who were arrested May 28 on charges of inappropriately touching girls as young as 14, have since been released. The Placer County District Attorney’s office said it has insufficient evidence to charge the men; an investigation is ongoing. (Golfland Sunsplash photo)

Seven Indian American men who were arrested on Memorial Day at the Golfland Sunsplash Water Park in Roseville, Calif., were released May 30, after spending two nights in jail, as the Placer County District Attorney’s office said it had insufficient evidence to charge them.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. The seven men are due back in court June 27. Five will need a Punjabi interpreter.

The suspects are: Gursharanpal Banga, 34; Manpreet Dhillon, 26; Lakhveer Gill, 30; Baljinder Khaira, 38; Balwinder Malhi, 32; Dharampal Singh, 21; and Harpreet Talwar, 18. All were arrested May 28; bail was set at $300,000. The Roseville Police Department released a news alert May 29, which stated that the men were arrested on felony charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

“It appears that the individuals who were arrested knew each other and worked in a coordinated effort to inappropriately touch several female juveniles,” noted the RPD in the news alert.

But the men were released after 48 hours, as prosecutors did not file charges, lacking sufficient evidence. Placer County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson told The Sacramento Bee in an e-mail: “If an investigation is lacking critical information that we need to charge the case we cannot file the case. We must believe that an individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that we can prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That is our ethical obligation under the law.”

The arrests occurred after the alleged victims informed Sunsplash security guards that they had been inappropriately touched (see earlier India-West story here). Security guards called police.

Steve Rodgers, general manager with Golfland Sunsplash, said at a press briefing: “These guys were, I think they were, acting up because they were getting saved in all the pools. I don’t know if they could swim. They acted like they couldn’t swim.”

Indian American criminal defense attorney Kulvinder Singh, who is running for Placer County Superior Court judge — see story here — told India-West there could have been a cultural misunderstanding between Sunsplash security guards and the suspects.

“Perhaps due to their lack of ability to communicate with the guests, the Sunsplash staff became confused when some of them didn't swim well and needed help,” said Singh.

The Roseville attorney said that the men still face the possibility of being charged. “I have represented a defendant when there were other co-defendants, and this situation is high pressure. Someone may take a plea and say something against someone else, just to stay out of jail,” he said, noting that all the suspects should immediately hire a criminal defense attorney, to avoid the possibility of accepting a plea for a crime they did not commit.

If no charges are filed by prosecutors, Singh said the men could file a lawsuit for wrongful arrest. He noted that it is proper for the DA to request the police or other law enforcement to go back and get reports, video, statements, and other evidence before filing felony charges.

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