Hiten A. Patel, of Egg Harbor Township's Cardiff section, could face life in prison if convicted on charges he sexually assaulted seven women.

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It wasn't her first time being attacked, the woman testified Thursday in the trial of her alleged rapist.

"Being a prostitute, things like this happen," said "J.R.," being publicly identified only by her initials. "When you start crying and you start screaming, it can make them more mad."

Hiten Patel, 35, of Egg Harbor Township, is on trial in attacks on J.R. and six others in Atlantic City during the summer of 2012. The charges include aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault.

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J.R. testified Thursday she was an addict prostituting herself for drug money when the man drove up to her at the Fox Manor motel, where she was living at the time.

She said that she got in the car because he looked safe, and she needed money to buy enough heroin to stop the sick feelings brought on from her withdraw.

But once parked at the Atlantic City Aquarium, things changed. When J.R. asked for money, the man pulled out a gun, she said.

J.R. said he ordered her to take her clothes off and then raped her.

The gun — described by several of the women as a silver handgun — was actually a toy, with a socket on the end, allegedly to make it look more real.

While raping her, J.R. said Patel also held her throat and called her names. Those details weren't in her written statement to police just weeks after the attack, defense attorney James Leonard pointed out.

But J.R. said the more she has thought on it, the more things she remembers.

He also pointed out that it was easy to identify Patel, since she first saw his picture in The Press of Atlantic City on Aug. 4, 2012, when his arrest in attacks on two women was first reported.

"I saw the man who did this to me, and a story that sounded like what happened to me," she had told the court earlier, during questioning from Assistant Prosecutor Kate Bond.

J.R. said she wasn't sure about going to police at first: "I was on probation. I was on heroin. And I was a prostitute."

She did go, though.

On Aug. 7, 2012, she spoke with Detective Al Herbert, telling him details that, Bond stressed, weren't in the newspaper. There was no picture of the car J.R. described. No partial license plate, which J.R. gave to police. Those, J.R. said, she got from being there.

"You were just a mess (at that time)?" Leonard asked her. "Drugs, prostitution, et cetera?"

J.R. agreed.

Now, she testified, she has been clean about a year and a half, after going through Atlantic City's methadone program. She regained custody of her three children, and has a job. Her probation, for an earlier drug conviction, is almost done.

The trial is finished for the week. The state is expected to rest its case early Monday before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury. Then, the defense will begin, with Patel expected to testify at some point.

In his openings, Leonard indicated the defense would not be that Patel wasn't the man who picked up the women. But, Leonard told jurors, it wasn't rape. Instead, the defendant was a man addicted to sex with prostitutes.

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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