MODESTO (CBS13) — It’s the type of outcome to a criminal investigation you seldom see. A Ceres man is found “factually innocent” after being wrongfully accused of attempting to kidnap a 14-year-old girl from a Modesto neighborhood.
Sandeep Singh never dreamed of being a part of such a case.
“This is one of the worst things that could happen to anybody,” he said.
He said he’s been fighting for his innocence for more than six months.
“This was a bit trauma(tic) for me,” he said.
The farmer and owner of a local trucking company was wrongfully accused of trying to kidnap the girl from the 600 block of Tokay Avenue in Modesto on June 26.
The girl told officers a man approached her in his car and grabbed her as she walked down the sidewalk, but she was able to get away. She described the suspect as an Indian man, and also provided a description of the car.
She later identified Singh as the suspected kidnapper when police took her to the area where his pickup was parked. That’s what Singh and his attorney, Kirk McAllister, said led to his arrest.
“I had no idea. I was completely shocked and I kept asking the cops what was going on? Why are you detaining me? And they wouldn’t say anything. Just said we’ll tell you later. We’ll tell you later,” said Singh.
Singh was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on $200,000 bail. It turns out the alleged crime never happened.
“The district attorney’s office found out six days ago, when they brought her in for an interview and she said she lied about the whole thing, said McAllister.
A Stanislaus County Judge dismissed the criminal case after determining Singh was “factually innocent” or innocent of any wrongdoing or criminal act.
“It’s very infrequent that you have a finding of factual innocence,” explained McAllister. “I’ve only had one other one in my cases over the years… and I’ve been an attorney for 40 plus years.”
Singh’s attorney credits the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church for capturing surveillance video that helped establish his innocence.
“We subpoenaed it, we got it very early in the case,” said McAllister. “We had to act fast because a lot of times videos are deleted within 24 hours or are lost.”
It shows Singh’s distinctive yellow pickup pass by the girl standing on the sidewalk while he was on his way to a store to eat his lunch.
“He never stops, slows down, does anything. And she’s just walking along,” said McAllister.
The church told CBS13, the camera was the only one in the entire neighborhood to capture video.
“Both the attorney stopped by as well and District Attorney’s office sent an investigator to collect video evidence, “said pastoral assistant Michael Sergakis. “We were able to collect that from our system and hand it over to both of them so we’re glad it got used and has proven the case one way or another so really justice can prevail.”
Justice for a man who said he doesn’t understand why he was wrongfully accused in the first place.
“Guess who is the victim here? I am. I’m the one that suffered. My family suffered. My community suffered and so things shouldn’t happen like this,” said Singh.
Singh said he’s happy to “get his life back” and to return to both his church and charity work now that he’s been cleared of any wrongdoing.