News / Utah / 

Owner of Salt Lake rug businesses charged with rape, human trafficking

The Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City. A Salt Lake businessman who owns two rug businesses was charged Monday with seven felonies accusing him of sexually assaulting a woman and a 16-year-old girl after meeting them on a sugar daddy dating site.

The Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City. A Salt Lake businessman who owns two rug businesses was charged Monday with seven felonies accusing him of sexually assaulting a woman and a 16-year-old girl after meeting them on a sugar daddy dating site. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A longtime Salt Lake businessman faces criminal charges accusing him of sexually assaulting two people, including a teenage girl, whom he met on a sugar daddy website.

Raffi J. Daghlian, 77, continued until recently to be active on the website and there could potentially be additional victims, investigators say in charging documents in 3rd District Court.

Daghlian was charged Monday by the Utah Attorney General's Office with rape, human trafficking of a child, and aggravated exploitation of prostitution involving a child, all first-degree felonies. He was also charged with three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, and dealing in harmful materials to a minor, a third-degree felony.

Daghlian is the owner of Daghlian Rugs on Main and Daghlian Oriental Rugs and has also been involved in the restaurant industry in Salt Lake City.

He is accused of sexually abusing two people, a woman and a girl who was 16 at the time. Daghlian met both victims on the dating site Seeking Arrangements, the attorney general's office confirmed. The website bills itself as a place "where beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships."

"The purpose of the dating site was to connect men who were willing to pay women money or spend money on women in exchange for dates," the charging documents state.

In July 2020, a 16-year-old girl told police she registered on the website and claimed she was 18. She began talking with Daghlian and the two arranged to go on a date "with the understanding that the defendant would pay (her) a quantity of money to go to dinner with him," according to the charges.

At dinner, Daghlian made sexual advances toward the girl, who responded by telling him "she was not on the date to have sex, but rather to get money to pay her rent for having dinner with (Daghlian)," the charges allege.

After dinner, Daghlian took the girl to a rug store he owned at 2364 S. Main. At the store, he forced her to take her clothes off and perform sexual acts, according to the charges. The teen said Daghlian would become "angry" if she did not comply, so she did what he requested because she was "scared of what (Daghlian) would do."

At the end of the "date," the girl was paid $170, the charges say.

Another woman told investigators she met Daghlian on the same dating site in 2013. During their date, Daghlian "repeatedly attempted to get (the woman) to drink alcohol and made multiple references to sex and having sex," according to the charges.

He took the woman to his rug shop at 1053 E. 2100 South and insisted she have another drink, then raped the woman inside the business, the charging documents allege.

The woman immediately reported the assault to law enforcement in 2013. A DNA sample of her alleged attacker was taken from her dress. But according to the court documents, Daghlian's "DNA profile was never obtained or compared to the profile on the dress, and the investigation was never presented to a prosecutorial agency for the screening of criminal charges."

After learning that charges were never filed and that the case was never even reviewed for potential charges in 2013, investigators from the attorney general's office obtained a DNA sample from Daghlian's son.

"Comparing the obtained male DNA believed to be (Daghlian's) son to the DNA on the dress, there is indicated a 99.9999% probability that the DNA on the dress is from someone of familial relation to the son (i.e. the defendant)," investigators wrote in the charges.

A no bail arrest warrant was issued for Daghlian on Monday. Prosecutors say they will obtain a DNA sample from him when he is taken into custody and compare it with the DNA profile taken from the dress.

In each incident, Daghlian "stands accused of utilizing a social media dating site designed to connect men who were willing to pay women money or spend money on women in exchange for dates, to lure women to his rug business for sexual activity. When these women did not consent, he sexually assaulted them to satisfy his sexual desires," the charging documents say.

"Two independent alleged victims reporting sexual assaults of significant similarity suggests that the probability that a certain event would occur, such as a wrongful act committed by mistake or accusations being made against an innocent person, unlikely," investigators wrote.

The attorney general's office also noted in court documents that it is continuing "to investigate other allegations of sexual assault by the defendant committed in a similar manner." Prosecutors say Daghlian continues to be active on the dating website, and "in one 90-day period in the fall of 2020, exchanged over 6,000 messages."

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast