She first met him at the Los Altos Farmers’ Market last fall. It was late in the day, and many merchants were packing up their stalls. He approached as she spoke with two of her friends.
“He was just, like, ‘Hi, guys. I’m new in town,’” the teen said in a recent interview with the Town Crier. “‘What’s the fun stuff to do here? How’s the weather?’”
The girls inched away.
“Everyone was kind of weirded out because there were obviously families and older people at the farmers’ market, and it’s weird that a 30- to 40-year-old man was walking up to 13-year-old girls,” she said.
Weird enough that the girl reported the incident to her mother, who called the Los Altos Police Department. Weird enough that detectives launched an investigation culminating last week in the arrest of Cupertino resident Rajeev Sahni, 35, on charges of stalking and annoying a minor.
Police now believe Sahni is responsible for harassing at least 19 juveniles across the state over the course of several years by stalking, offering gifts and even crafting collages of his targets.
Detectives with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Assault Investigation Unit, the SAFE Task Force and the Los Altos Police Department collaborated in the investigation and arrested Sahni on a warrant March 8, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release. He was held at the Santa Clara County Main Jail without bail until his arraignment.
After the farmers’ market run-in, the Los Altos teen encountered the same man at other downtown locations, including Walgreens and near the Tour Eiffel restaurant. She repeatedly spotted his white BMW convertible, and took a photo of him driving the car near Egan Junior High School. Curious, she visited the website address printed on the business cards he distributed. Apparently written for adolescents, jcmakeover.com promotes a book titled “J C Makeover” and contains advice on a range of subjects, including relationships, celebrities and religion, and promotes abstinence from drugs, alcohol and sex. It also includes extensive autobiographical information about Sahni.
“My name is Raj,” the homepage reads. “I’m promoting my book called J C Makeover. It’s about an inner beauty makeover, into becoming a beautiful person on the inside, in who we are, our choices, our relationships, friendships, families, schools, career and our life’s.”
Los Altos Police detectives learned a man matching a description provided by the girl also contacted two other girls in a similar manner, said Sgt. Brian Jeffrey, a detective with the department. By posting an interagency flier about the encounters, they learned of related investigations by law enforcement agencies in San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos and Los Angeles.
Detectives identified Sahni through the “J C Makeover” website and obtained a search warrant through a judge, Jeffrey said. While serving the warrant at Sahni’s home March 8, they discovered photo collages of his targets and gifts he allegedly intended to give them, including a personalized license plate for one girl.
One Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office case involved a 14-year-old who alleged that Sahni offered her gifts, including money and show tickets, and followed her home more than a dozen times, according to the department’s press release.
“Although confronted about his behavior by a family member, Sahni continued to follow and harass the female juvenile,” according to the release.
Sahni has applied to become a schoolteacher, a nanny and an in-home child care provider, according to the release. There is no evidence he ever taught, and his attempts to volunteer as a youth mentor or pastor at several South Bay churches were thwarted due to his “concerning behavior around young females.”
As many as 19 victims – targeted over the course of years – have been identified, but there could be more, officials said. Sahni seemed to favor underage girls with blond hair, light eyes and pale skin.
“The safety of our community is extremely important to us,” Jeffrey said. “If there are any other victims out there who recognize this guy or were contacted by him, please come forward.”
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information relevant to the investigation to call the Sheriff’s Office detective bureau at (408) 808-4500.