Possible victims sought in ex-day care worker case
Detroit police are turning to the public to find other children who may have been victimized by a former day care worker charged with assaulting a 5-year-old girl and facing federal child pornography charges.
Investigators allege Michael Pankey, 37, formerly known as Michael Leverette, sexually assaulted the child while babysitting her in December 2016.
Pankey was arrested in May, weeks after the girl’s mother told Child Protective Services that her daughter told her he sexually assaulted her at his Detroit home while they stayed there for four days in December 2016, according to a federal affidavit for a criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The woman worked as he babysat.
In an interview in April, the girl described how Pankey had allegedly abused her, according to the court filing.
On May 6, Detroit police executed a search warrant at Pankey’s home and “numerous items of electronic media were seized, including five DVDs labeled “Never Watch,” “Never Watch 2,” “Never Watch 3,” “Never Watch 4” and “Never Watch 5.” A review by Detroit police found “suspected child pornography.” Police determined that the DVDs contained about 800 images and 160 videos of alleged child sexually abusive material.
A forensic exam by a Detroit Police Department computer examiner discovered a series of sexually explicit images, among which were the minor victim who appeared to be sleeping on a couch while being assaulted.
The victim’s mother identified the couch as belonging to her girlfriend in Ypsilanti, wrote a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security who had been previously assigned to the Michigan Internet Crimes Against Children task force in the affidavit.
A preliminary examination on criminal sexual conduct charges was held May 23, said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. After hearing testimony, 36th District Judge William McConico bound Pankey over to Wayne County Circuit Court on the charges, Miller said.
He posted a $100,000 bond, police said Thursday.
Pankey is awaiting trial on five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct; one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct; one count of indecent exposure; and three counts of possessing sexually explicit material, police said.
Authorities sought to arrest him again this month for allegedly possessing and producing child porn in relation to the case, records show.
He first appeared in federal court on Aug. 17 and consented to detention, said Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit. His preliminary exam is set for 1 p.m. Thursday.
Meanwhile, Detroit police have learned Pankey worked at several day cares and child care centers in recent years. They are: Little Munchkins, in Sterling Heights, October 2015 – January 2016; Gurukul Montessori Academy in Troy, January 2016 – September 2016; Oakland University Lowry Center Daycare, September 2016 – December 2016; North Hills Child Care Center, Troy, December 2016.
Police ask that if anyone’s child has had contact with him at these locations, they should call the Detroit Police Sex Crimes Unit at (313) 596-1958.