Man arraigned on rape, sexual assault charges

A former Ladera Ranch man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he raped two women and sexually assaulted a third.

Ali Achekzai, 33, who was on Orange County's 10 Most Wanted List until his extradition to the United States from Austria last summer, was arraigned at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig E. Robison set Achekzai's pre-trial for July 1 and his jury trial for Oct. 10.

Achekzai is accused of raping a woman Laguna Beach and another in San Diego County, and sexually assaulting a third in Costa Mesa, according to a transcript of a January 2010 press conference that followed Achekzai's arrest in Austria. He is being tried for crimes in both counties by the Orange County district attorney's office. Before his extradition, he was accused of raping a woman in Austria.

Achekzai is charged with two felony counts of forcible rape, two felony counts of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, according to court records.

Achekzai is believed to have met a 21-year-old woman at a nightclub in Laguna Beach on Jan. 21, 2004.

About 2 a.m. he followed her in his car and shouted to her that he had something important to say, according to an August 2010 news release from the district attorney's office. When the woman pulled over, Achekzai is accused of entering the woman's car, and the victim attempted to run away. Achekzai allegedly brought her back to the car, and sexually assaulted her inside it.

He is also accused of meeting two women in a San Diego nightclub with his cousin May 3, 2004, and inviting one to take a walk with him through a dark park.

Once the two were alone, Achekzai is believed to have pulled her to the ground, and repeatedly punched her and threatened to kill her if she screamed, before he allegedly raped her. When the woman told her friend of the attack, Achekzai is accused of punching the woman in the mouth, knocking out a front tooth.

The alleged sexual assault took place in Costa Mesa on Oct. 26, 2002.

While in a limousine parked outside a Costa Mesa home, Achekzai is accused of fondling a woman who was asleep in the vehicle. When the woman woke up to find Achekzai assaulting her, she began to scream, but Achekzai told her to shut up, according to the news release.

If convicted, he faces up to 68 years and four months to life in state prison.

Achekzai is accused of fleeing into Canada, before heading to Austria. He is believed to have changed his name several times and lived in San Francisco, Canada, England, Germany and Afghanistan, where he is a citizen, according to the release.

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