Owner of Oakdale tobacco shop convicted of 2017 sexual assault at business

·4 min read

Nov. 2—Hatem Younis, the owner of Super Smokedale Tobacco in Oakdale, was charged almost four years ago with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for attacking a woman at his business' storage facility.

On Friday, a Washington County jury found him guilty.

Washington County District Court Judge Ellen Maas ordered that Younis, 50, of Afton, be taken into custody immediately after the verdict was announced. Younis, who could face up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8.

According to the criminal complaint, a 34-year-old woman arrived at Smokedale around midnight on Nov. 22, 2017, to buy cigarettes. She had previously applied for a job at the shop. He asked if she wanted to start working that night and help price items. "(The woman) reasoned with herself that although it was odd to start a job at midnight, since her children were not in her care that night and she needed the money for Christmas, it made sense to work," the complaint said.

She followed him in her car to a warehouse in the back of the building. After working for about 20 minutes, Younis started touching her.

He allegedly started touching her lips and her chest over her sweatshirt and then lifted her shirt. The woman started to cry and said "Please no," the complaint states. "The defendant then slapped her hand back and told her to 'be a good girl.'" He then raped her, according to the complaint.

"The defendant then sat down at his desk and continued to work," the complaint states. "(She) was stunned and unsure of what to do. She sat on the floor and did what she was told. The defendant then threw money at her and told her he'd see her at noon the next day."

The next day, she told her father. Her father called police and the woman was taken to the hospital, where a sexual assault exam was completed.

"The sperm cell fraction located on the cervical swab matched the DNA of the defendant and would not be expected to occur more than once among unrelated individuals in the world population," the complaint states.

During the first day of testimony in last week's trial, the woman was on the stand from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., said Assistant Washington County Attorney Tom Wedes, who prosecuted the case.

"She was amazing," he said. "I'm so happy that the jury got to hear her voice. The strength that she showed in her testimony was just incredible."

Wedes said it took almost four years for the case to go to trial because of delays due to COVID and because Younis "kept switching attorneys."

Younis also faces a charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Washington County in connection with an alleged assault at his business on Dec. 10, 2020, prosecutors say.

In that case, a woman reported that she went to Smokedale as a customer, according to the criminal complaint. Younis told the woman "that if she helped him, he would give her one of the items for free," the complaint states. "She agreed to help and followed the defendant out of the store and got into his truck and he drove them around to the back of the store where the warehouse was located."

Younis allegedly touched the woman, even though she repeatedly said "No" and pushed away from him. She was able to free herself and ran to the warehouse door. He "got angry and said "Fine, let's go. Fine, we're done.'"

In a statement to police a week later, Younis denied touching the woman, according to the complaint.

A scheduling hearing on that case is Dec. 8.

In 2018, Younis, who also owns Super Smokedale Tobacco retail locations in Anoka, Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minn., was charged in Washington County District Court with 43 tax-related crimes.

Younis allegedly underreported tobacco sales and knowingly filed false sales tax returns and underpaid the amount of sales tax that was actually owed, according to the criminal complaint. Younis evaded paying $918,362 in sales tax between April 2011 and December 2016, not including interest or penalties, the complaint states. A pretrial hearing in that case is set for Jan. 7.

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