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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Attorney: Client No Rapist

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News’s characterization of professional poker player Shahram Sheikhan as a “convicted rapist” is incorrect, Sheikhan’s attorney tells

“I am the attorney for Shahram Sheikhan and am writing to you to immediately put you on notice that your previously published allegation about my client is defamatory and untrue,” wrote Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff in an e-mail. “We are requesting that you immediately print a retraction that he is not a convicted rapist.”

In a news story last week, reported that Sheikhan was one of six poker pros appearing all week on NBC’s “Poker After Dark” television show. The story also noted Sheikhan’s criminal past–a sex crime 13 years ago for which he served time in prison, and for which the U.S. government tried to deport him last year to his native Iran. referred to Sheikhan as a “rapist,” but technically that is not correct.

Legally speaking, Sheikhan is just a child molester and a sex offender, which to many will seem worse.

Although “rape” is often used interchangeably with or as a euphemism or synonym for “sexual assault” or “sexual battery,” can report that Sheikhan did not commit a rape.

So what did he do?

An e-mail to Chesnoff asking for details about the case has not been returned yet, but according to the Sept. 20, 2007, edition of the newspaper the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in a story about the deportation effort against Sheikhan, “Professional poker player Shahram ‘Shawn’ Sheikhan, an Iranian citizen who lives in Las Vegas and owns several businesses, is facing possible deportation over a 1995 conviction on charges of sexual battery and annoyance or molestation of a child.”

The incident was a “1995 midemeanor conviction in Contra Costa, California,” for which he served “nine months in jail,” the newspaper reported, reported on Sept. 21, 2007, that the incident occurred when Sheikhan was in his 20’s and involved a 17-year-old girl, but gave no further details.

So Sheikhan is not a convicted rapist, just a convicted sexual batterer, and of a minor at that, according to the legalese.

Some would say it’s a distinction without a difference.

Whatever one wants to call it, Sheikhan is a pariah, and it’s a disgrace that NBC put him on televison.

And that was the point of the story all along.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected]) =A0

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