Egg Harbor Township man found guilty of assaulting five women, more charges pending

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MAYS LANDING – An Egg Harbor Township man was found guilty of the sexual assault or attempted sexual assault of five women in Atlantic City throughout the summer of 2012, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced today.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, an Atlantic County jury convicted Hiten Patel, 35, of Ridge Avenue, of sexually assaulting five women. Some of the incidents occurred while he was impersonating an undercover police officer and using an imitation gun to threaten them.

On August 2, 2012, Patel was arrested after Atlantic City Police detectives, along with assistance from the FBI, linked him to at least 10 sexual assaults in the city.

He was convicted of sexually assaulting five of seven victims. He was convicted of pulling an imitation firearm on one of the women he was acquitted of sexually assaulting, and attempting to rob the other. An additional victim was removed from the trial after she was unable to be located. Two remaining cases, from earlier attacks in 2011, have been moved to a separate trial and remain pending disposition.

During the two-week-long trial, the state, represented by Assistant Prosecutors John Flammer and Kathleen Bond, called the seven women who were victims of Patel’s attacks as witnesses. Several of the victims recalled similar accounts of how Patel threatened them and sexually assaulted them at gunpoint. Several of the women testified that he also choked them during the attacks.

Police seized the alleged gun found in his van, which turned out to be an imitation or toy handgun. Patel had altered the gun to make it appear more realistic, according to Flammer.

On Monday, Feb. 10, Patel took the stand and testified that he frequently solicited prostitutes in Atlantic City and that the majority of the victims were prostitutes he had solicited or been solicited by. Patel denied sexually assaulting any of the women or using the toy gun found in his van to threaten them, claiming that he had paid the women for sex and that they agreed to it. He said he had never had sexual contact with two of the victims.

The state submitted that Patel targeted prostitutes as the victims of his attacks.

"He chose prostitutes because he believed they were unlikely to go to the police,” Flammer said.

While the state agreed that several of the victims were former prostitutes, they asserted that not all were.

One of the victims, an 18-year-old Delaware girl, testified that Patel picked her up under the pretense of giving her a ride to the bus station. But when Patel locked the doors, threatened her and pulled a gun on her, the girl escaped by jumping from the moving van.

While fleeing, the girl was picked up by a NJ Transit bus. The bus driver testified at trial that the girl told her “someone tried to rape her.” The girl was taken to hospital, where she was treated for a serious wound to her head and abrasions on several parts of her body as a result of hitting the pavement.

The last victim, a 21-year-old Camden County woman, was instructed to get in the van while Patel impersonated an undercover detective by using his security badge from his former job with a Federal Aviation Administration private contractor. He then threatened her with the imitation gun and sexually assaulted her in the back of the van.

At the time, Patel had already been under investigation as a suspect in a series of similar sexual assaults. Atlantic City police officers, who observed the victim fleeing the van, approached her and she told them she had been sexually assaulted by a man with a gun. Patel was pulled over in the van shortly thereafter and arrested. DNA evidence linking Patel to the victim was subsequently obtained by police.

In addition to Patel’s E-ZPass and cellphone records, which corroborated the victims’ testimony, the state also submitted that several of the victims individually identified Patel as their attacker either in a photo lineup or by seeing his photo in the media.

After nearly eight hours of deliberation, the jury found Patel guilty of the most serious offenses. Patel was convicted on 22 of 34 counts, including multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, possession of an imitation firearm, impersonation of a law enforcement officer, terroristic threats and one count of attempted robbery and criminal restraint.

“This guilty verdict should serve as a reminder and deterrent of the grave consequences in store for individuals who seek to take advantage of vulnerable victims, especially women,”  Flammer states. “Due to the brave women who came forward and faced their attacker, this defendant will now be unable to harm anyone else.”

After the verdict, Patel’s bail was revoked and he was remanded into custody.

Patel could face up to life in state prison. Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury will sentence Patel after the completion of an evaluation at Avenel Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center, which is required for convicted sex offenders.

Read more: 

Egg Harbor Township man indicited for Atlantic City sexual assaults

 


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