A clerk at City Lee's Market in South Berkeley has just been charged with committing sex crimes against a disabled man and a homeless man in separate incidents over the summer, court papers show.
Nafeh Gawbah, a 28-year-old Richmond resident, has denied the allegations, Berkeley police say.
In both incidents, Gawbah offered the men work stacking boxes in the back room of the market, which is located at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at Derby Street), right across from Berkeley Technology Academy, the city's alternative high school.
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The Alameda County district attorney's office charged Gawbah this week with sex crimes in connection with both victims.
On July 16, police say, Gawbah offered a homeless man work in the storage room of City Lee's Market and then forcibly sodomized him, according to court records.
The man was injured in the assault and sought medical treatment afterward as well as a forensic medical examination, according to charging papers.
Less than a month later, on Aug. 10, Gawbah offered a developmentally disabled man work stacking boxes after the man went into the market at about 4 p.m.
Nafeh Gawbah. BPD
Once they got into the back room, according to police, Gawbah offered the man money to expose himself. He refused, police said.
Gawbah then repeatedly touched the man's private areas against his will over his clothing and made sexual remarks until the man told him he wanted to go home.
That night, the victim told his mother what happened to him, police wrote in charging papers. Then they drove by the store and the man showed his mother who had hurt him, police wrote.
The victims do not know each other and "were both able to independently and accurately describe the rear storage area of the market, including a safe near where the assaults occurred," investigators wrote in court papers.
When Berkeley police arrested Gawbah on Halloween, he denied engaging in sexual activity with either man. He was subsequently released and has been out of custody since that time.
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On Nov. 1, investigators submitted the case to the Alameda County DA's office for charging. That took place this week, nearly two months later.
Gawbah was ultimately charged with sodomy by force, a felony, and misdemeanor sexual battery.
He has been ordered to appear in court for arraignment Jan. 17, 2024.