Canton Township man pleads guilty to sexually exploiting child, feds say

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Canton Township man pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually exploiting a child and faces multiple charges in connection with allegedly abusing youths, federal officials announced.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in December against Shailesh Patel, FBI agents interviewed two alleged victims. One, now a 20-year-old, told them she knew Patel from the temple they attended and he sexually abusing her from ages 5-12.

Shailesh Patel

Once, while watching a movie during a dinner party at Patel's home, he asked the girl to join him in a bedroom closet and placed her hand on his genitals, calling it a "Jolly Rancher," according to the filing.

The victim recalled other sexual abuse over the years, including Patel requesting she use his cellphone to record a video of the girl touching herself, investigators said.

Another victim, now in her 20s, told the FBI that she also knew Patel, who owned a Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins, from the temple her family attended and he would sometimes drive children to his shop to buy them sweets. During one trip when she was 11 or 12 and riding in the front passenger seat, Patel reached under the girl's underwear and digitally penetrated her, according to the complaint.

The woman told investigators he "would grab her breasts and butt on a regular basis" during other encounters, including as recently as 2019 at the temple they attended.

Canton Township police executed a search warrant in October 2020 at Patel's home and seized electronics including a computer tower. A video found on one depicted a nude girl who the 20-year-old victim said was her, according to the complaint.

“The sexual assault of children and the production of child pornography are heinous crimes and those who prey upon our children and commit these acts of violence will be vigorously prosecuted and brought to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin in a statement.

Patel told the FBI he had abused both victims, investigators wrote.

As part of his guilty plea Wednesday before U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, Patel "agreed that in approximately 2010, on at least one occasion, he gave a 10-year-old female his cellular phone and instructed her to make a video producing a visual depiction that constituted child pornography," federal officials said.

The 53-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20.

Meanwhile, Patel was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct last year following a Canton Township police investigation sparked by a victim who reported abuse dating back several years.

Patel pleaded guilty last month in Wayne County Circuit Court to first-degree, second-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, including for acts involving one of the victims in the federal case. 

He faces 15-35 years in prison for the first-degree criminal sexual conduct, 9-15 years for the second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and probation for the fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, authorities said.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 28.

“The women in this case were sexually assaulted for years by Shailesh Patel,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. “They were children when the abuse began, and they were courageous to come forward as adults to report this behavior to the authorities. For their sake we are pleased that we were able to reach a global resolution with our state case and the federal case.”

An attorney listed as representing Patel did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.