Renton officer pleads not guilty in assault case

Soni’s defense attorney calls allegations “salacious”

The Renton police officer charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and abuse of office has pleaded not guilty.

At his Aug. 29 arraignment hearing at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, the judge released Tanuj Soni on the condition he has no contact with the alleged victim.

Soni was arrested and booked into King County Jail earlier in August before being released. He has since been out of custody. After the charging, his bond was set at $50,000, which was paid. The judge returned that bond at the Aug. 29 hearing.

Soni allegedly assaulted a women at a Des Moines Park in the earlier morning hours of Aug. 10. The alleged victim was involved in a separate case with Renton Police Department, that prosecutors say Soni was working between her and an ex. In the prosecutor’s case summary, it states the victim only knew him as “Detective Soni” and was too frightened to say no to his actions.

He allegedly texted her, saying they needed to have an important discussion of her case, sending the victim a “pin drop” of his location. Des Moines Police Department was able to locate texts from Soni to the victim on her iPad, although they were deleted off her phone by Soni during the encounter, according to the victim.

A witness, the victim’s friend, dropped her off at the Des Moines park and left. Soni was at the park with wine and two Styrofoam cups, and allegedly told the victim she needed to keep drinking so he could “get the answers he needed for the case.”

Soni allegedly began to ask the victim to move around, and asked her to say things of an explicit nature.

The victim then undressed, which she stated to investigators she agreed to until he allegedly began to slap and spank her, while also touching her genitals. The slapping started to become painful, according to charging documents, and the victim told Soni to stop, that she was hurting and she was scared. She later told Des Moines police she began to cry as Soni allegedly described a sexually-explicit act he was going to perform on her.

The victim then ran to a nearby house, where the resident let her in and called 911. Surveillance cameras from the resident showed the victim running, and that Soni followed her to the yard.

When Des Moines police arrested Soni, he told them the victim was his confidential informant. He also told police that the victim had just shown up and they were hanging out before she “started freaking out” and ran.

On Aug. 28, Soni’s defense attorney Joe Kuhlman gave the court a memorandum questioning the case. The defense has also requested information on the alleged victim’s work hours, payment transactions and credit card history, which has not yet been granted, according to court documents.

In the defense’s memorandum earlier this week, the defense called the allegations salacious and that “there is no evidence whatsoever to give rise to the inference that Soni has engaged in any ‘threats’ or interference in the administration of justice.”

Soni’s case date will be set on Oct. 15.