MetaTV Founder Arrested on Sex Charges

Ranjit Singh Sahota —founder, CEO and chief technical officer of interactive-TV software provider MetaTV Inc. — spent last week in jail without bail following his arraignment on sexual- assault and Internet-related sex charges, the Federal Bureau of Investigations said last week.

The executive was arrested June 2 in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, following a three-month investigation by the FBI and Sunnyvale, Calif., police.

At his June 4 arraignment in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Sahota was charged with sexual assault and using the Internet to engage in sex with a minor, according to officials.

Following his arrest, authorities armed with a warrant from magistrate Joseph Spero searched Sahota's Fairfax, Calif., home and MetaTV's offices in Sausalito.

In a prepared statement, MetaTV officers said: "It is our understanding that Mr. Sahota was arrested on June 2 on allegations of personal activities entirely unrelated to company operations. We cannot comment or speculate about his personal legal matters."

Andrew Lev, the company's president and co-founder, will continue to run the day-to-day operations, as he has since March 1999, the company statement added.

MetaTV has developed a "universal portal platform" that enables programming across satellite, cable and Internet platforms. Comcast Corp.'s Comcast Interactive Capital unit and Cox Communications Inc. are among its investors, and E! Online was an early user of its syndicated server technology and professional services.

Authorities began investigating Sahota earlier this year, after a 12-year-old Sunnyvale girl reported meeting a man named "Ron" online, according to the FBI's San Francisco office. The girl said she revealed her age to the man during conversations.

The two agreed to meet, and the girl claimed the man sexually assaulted her at a local motel. The FBI alleges Sahota was that man.

Following the incident, the FBI's child-protection unit created a profile of a 14-year-old girl who contacted "Ron." The man allegedly made graphic sexual overtures to the "child."

The two arranged a meeting, according to the FBI, and officials arrested Sahota at the park.