The ex-girlfriend of a former San Francisco tech CEO wrapped up in a domestic violence scandal was too frightened to testify against him Friday at a probation violation hearing, according to a district attorney investigator.
Gurbaksh Chahal, 33, was back in court at the Hall of Justice for allegedly violating his probation on three occasions in recent years, including a September 2014 incident where he is accused of repeatedly kicking his then-girlfriend inside his Rincon Hill penthouse.
Chahal was fired from his position at the top of RadiumOne after pleading guilty in April 2014 to two of charges in a separate domestic violence matter from the year prior. Chahal initially faced more than 40 domestic violence related counts.
On Friday, he sat stone-faced in the courtroom, often with his fingers or legs crossed.
The controversial Internet mogul was escorted to and from the room by an entourage of bodyguards, family and friends who blocked him from the media. Some of them stood outside the courthouse earlier in the day calling for District Attorney George Gascon to resign.
Echoing the sentiment of a Facebook page called “Gascon is a Racist,” the defendant’s father Avtar Chahal held signs bearing phrases like, “Stop prejudice against minorities” and “Stop using Gurbaksh for political ambitions.”
“He has done injustice to the Afro-American communities, [and] Muslims,” said the elder Chahal, a Sikh from northern India, alleging that Gascon is biased and prejudiced against his son.
Back in the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney O’Bryan Kenney called four witnesses to the stand in an attempt to show that Chahal had kicked ex-girlfriend Laura Soobeen B. (whose full last name was not released) during an argument in bed on the early morning of Sept. 17, 2014.
The victim was unable to attend Friday’s hearing because she was “very concerned about her immigration status” and “expressed concerns about safety,” which had both allegedly been compromised by Chahal, according to the testimony of Pollie Pent, an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office and the fourth witness to testify Friday.
About a year after the alleged beating, the victim moved from San Francisco to Seoul, South Korea, but Pent was able to track her down and communicate through phone and e-mail. The victim told her Chahal and his bodyguard — a man called “Capp” — had showed up at her work before. Her green card had allegedly been threatened, Pent said.
The victim was also dissuaded by her potential discomfort on the flight to the U.S.
The first witness, Lindsay Allen, a physician’s assistant at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, testified on the stand that the victim walked into the emergency room the night of the alleged beating with two bruises on her right leg.
“Both were dark, very easily noticed immediately,” said Allen, who noted that the injuries were fresh at the time. The victim also told her that a friend had kicked her.
Officer Jose Hernandez, another witness who testified Friday, was working the desk at Southern Police Station early Oct. 6, 2014 when the victim filed a domestic violence report, alleging in a handwritten statement that Chahal kicked her 10 to 12 times in the leg the prior month.
The alleged incident happened when the victim went to visit Chahal at his apartment on the 37th floor of 301 Main St., Hernandez said. The pair had been drinking and Chahal was upset about the way the victim spoke with his bodyguard.
When she tried to call 9-1-1, Chahal allegedly took her phone away from her.
“She told me Mr. Chahal told her not to report the incident otherwise he would report her to the immigration authorities,” Hernandez testified.
The victim later called 9-1-1 from the lobby of the Infinity Towers, where Chahal lived, but then called back from her home several blocks away and told police the dial was accidental, according to Hernandez and recordings of the 9-1-1 tapes, which were played in court Friday.
The victim filed the report to document the incident but told Hernandez she did not want to press charges.
The third witness, Sgt. Timothy Kiely with the Special Victims Unit, interviewed the victim after the incident. The 20-year-veteran testified that the victim took a photograph of her leg about an hour after the alleged beating and sent it to her husband.
The image was presented to Kiely in court but not shown to the audience.
Kiely also said the victim told him her phone had been wiped by Chahal’s bodyguard but she was able to retrieve the photograph from her husband, who lived in Las Vegas.
James Lassart, Chahal’s attorney, is expected to call three witnesses for the defense to the stand at the next hearings May 17 and May 18.
Kenney, the prosecutor, withdrew one of the other alleged probation violations on Friday because the man involved would not testify from Canada. The third allegation, involving a person from Stockton, is still under investigation.
Chahal could face jail time if his probation is revoked.
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