Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rape charges against Gilroy magazine founder dropped

Comment: This appears to be at least the third time this girl has said she was sexually assaulted. And she is only 16 years old. At this time, it is unclear if the DA will press any charges against her. How many false accusations are needed, and lives forever altered, before she is held accountable?

At 16, girl is already a serial false accuser.

All charges were recently dismissed against a Gilroy magazine founder who faced six counts of sex crimes stemming from the alleged assaults of a 16-year-old girl and a woman older than 50.

Though the case was originally set for trial last September, Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Glenn Pesenhofer said there was not enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sunny Pappu Kavil came to the fore in Gilroy last year when he launched the Gavilan Post, a glossy monthly magazine. Kavil's first issue featured Mayor Al Pinheiro on the cover.

Kavil pleaded not guilty to six counts of false imprisonment, child molestation, assault and sexual battery and was released on $100,000 bail. At his preliminary examination, a judge ruled that there was enough evidence to warrant a jury trial. But further investigation of the allegations turned up shaky evidence.

"From the outset, we felt the younger woman's accusations were suspect," said Eugene Martinez, Kavil's defense attorney. Martinez said the older woman's accusations were "outlandish" and "an unlikely case on its own."

On May 19, 2007, a then-16-year-old girl was working at Sunnyline Clothing, a store owned by Kavil in Pacific Grove, near Monterey, according to court documents. Though the girl had only been working in the store two days, she had on multiple occasions felt uncomfortable with Kavil, Pacific Grove police officer Angelo DeMarco testified in a preliminary hearing held Nov. 5, 2007.

The girl told police that Kavil attacked her that evening when the two were alone in the store but that she managed to break free and call her mother.

Kavil was arrested three days later by Pacific Grove police.

The defense called into question the verity of the girl's accusations by pointing to her past accusations of sexual assault. In March, Superior Court Judge Terrance Duncan approved a discovery motion from the defense granting access to prior accusations of sexual assault filed by the girl.

According to the motion filed by Martinez, the girl filed sexual assault reports in Kern County after supposedly being raped three to four times by her brother and stepbrother. She also filed a sexual assault report with the Salinas Police Department that was investigated. However, no one was arrested and the cases were closed, according to the motion.

In addition, the girl quit her job at Longs Drugs previous to being hired at Sunnyline Clothing because the girls said she had been harassed and touched inappropriately by male co-workers, the motion continued.

During interviews, police said the girl remarked, "I don't know how I keep getting these problems."

Pesenhofer refused to comment on whether the charges were dropped because of the girl's history of sexual accusations. He also refused to say if the girl would be charged with filing a false police report.

"There was significant evidence that made it appear that these were false accusations," Martinez said. "We were unaware of the other accusations at the time of the preliminary hearing."

Kavil has four young children and a wife of 13 years, according to court documents. His family is active in the Gilroy chapter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since at least 2000, according to the court file.

"I have interviewed (Kavil) for his honesty, keeping the Ten Commandments and I can swear that he can be trusted for what he says," wrote Ben Griffin - Kavil's bishop for three years - in a character reference. "He honors his marriage covenants to his wife and children. Sunny Kavil is a good man."

Kavil could not be reached for comment.