Divorce counselor intern Tajinder Singh Bedi convicted of child molestation in absentia; disappeared mid-trial
March 19, 2011
Authorities are looking for a former Pittsburg (California) counselor believed to have skipped town last week after a dramatic courthouse run-in with one of his victims after the first day of testimony at his child molestation trial.
A girl who was 13 when she was molested by Tajinder Singh Bedi during a 2008 counseling session was among those waiting for a courthouse elevator Feb. 28 when the doors opened to reveal Bedi, according to deputy district attorney Mary Blumberg.
"As soon as the victim saw him, she dropped to her knees and started sobbing," Blumberg said. "That was the last time I saw the defendant."
Bedi had been missing for four days when jurors Friday convicted the 38-year-old Brentwood resident of two felony counts of child molestation for sexually touching teen girls who were his clients at the former Lucas Michael Rubino Family and Child Counseling Center in Pittsburg, Blumberg said.
Bedi was a counselor intern specializing in families affected by divorce and was working toward a marriage and family therapy license. He was arrested Nov. 24, 2008, for molesting a 15-year-old client that month and a 13-year-old client in January 2008. Blumberg said she believes it was a Sikh temple that posted Bedi's $250,000 bail through a bail bonds company three days later.
Both of Bedi's victims, who did not know each other, gave similar accounts of how Bedi encouraged them to kneel before a couch in a yoga-like pose with their eyes closed and then inappropriately rubbed himself on their feet and calves, Blumberg said. A third former client testified that she was 22 years old in 2005 when Bedi did something similar to her in front of her infant child, Blumberg said. Bedi told police he was innocent.
The trial started in Judge Barbara Zuniga's courtroom Feb. 15, and Bedi was present for two weeks of motions and jury selection. He was there Feb. 28 for attorney opening statements and testimony by the first witness -- the mother of the girl who was 13 when she was molested by Bedi.
At the end of the court day, that mother, her daughter, a victim advocate and Blumberg came face-to-face with Bedi and his private defense attorney, Roberta Brooks, in the elevator.
Bedi didn't show up for court the next morning without giving notice to Brooks, Blumberg said.
Authorities confirmed he was not in jail or in a hospital. His neighbors in Brentwood said they had not seen him or his car since the previous night.
Judge Zuniga issued a no-bail warrant for his arrest that afternoon. The next day, the trial continued without Bedi.
Reached at her Martinez office Tuesday, Brooks declined to comment on case.
"In all my years, it was the first time that one of my defendants failed to show up at trial," said Pittsburg police Detective Eric Solzman, an officer for 22 years.
Bedi is facing more than eight years in prison for the molestations, and potentially more time for ditching his trial.
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