MAYS LANDING — An Egg Harbor Township man charged in five sexual assaults in Atlantic City was freed Friday after posting $1 million bond.
Hiten A. Patel, 36, of the township’s Cardiff section, had been jailed since Aug. 2, when he allegedly raped and choked a 21-year-old Pennsauken woman.
According to the charges, Patel used his identification from work — he worked as a contractor at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center — to lure the woman into his van, claiming to be a detective.
He then aallegedly raped her at gunpoint. The weapon was later found to be fake.
Since his arrest, Patel has been charged in at least four other attacks. Investigators have been working to possibly link him to more.
At a bail hearing two weeks ago, Patel’s wife described her husband as “a kind, loyal, hardworking and supportive man.”
“I proclaim he’s innocent,” she told Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury.
At the time, DeLury lowered the $1 million cash bail to $750,000, allowing it to be covered by a bond. Additional charges increased the bail back to $1 million, but still allowed for the bond, which was posted Friday.
There were several conditions set on Patel’s release, including GPS monitoring and house arrest, which would allow him to leave home only under court order. He can have no contact with the alleged victims or witnesses, and must surrender his passport.
Neither Patel’s attorney, Joseph Levin, nor acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain would comment on the release.
Previously in court, Levin said his client “steadfastly maintains his innocence. ... (He) believes that the Atlantic City Police Department is attempting to clear its unsolved sexual assaults by charging him.”
The case is expected to go to the grand jury in two or three weeks, when a decision would be made whether to indict Patel.
After Patel’s arrest in August, police charged him in the June 27 abduction of a 31-year-old Ventnor woman who said Patel attempted to rape her at gunpoint, but she was able to escape.
Following media reports of Patel’s arrest, a 26-year-old woman came forward saying she too had been a victim and that her assailant portrayed himself as a law enforcement officer.
Two others were later added, including one dating to April 2011, when Patel was first arrested.
Police stopped Patel after receiving a call that a man sexually assaulted a woman at gunpoint. A toy gun was found in the van. But Patel ended up charged only with possession of a fake firearm, and the case sent to municipal court. No further details were released about that case.
Patel was already under surveillance as a suspect Aug. 2, 2012. Details of the surveillance were not made public, but during one court hearing it was disclosed that officers saw the woman run from the van, and she told them of the assault.
Patel fled, but was apprehended a short time later and the van was towed from the scene, according to previously released information.
When police searched the van, they found a toy gun and napkins, which the victim said were used to clean up after the attack. What was found on the napkins has not been released, although DNA testing usually takes several weeks if not months.
The women all worked at prostitutes, and all the alleged incidents began as sexual transactions, Levin told the judge last month.
Charges against Patel include at least three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and impersonating a police officer, along with kidnapping, criminal restraint, two counts of attempted aggravated sexual assault and weapons offenses.
The investigation is being led by Detective Al Herbert. The FBI is also assisting.
Anyone with information about the attacks or who may have been a victim is asked to call the Atlantic City Detective Bureau at 347-5766.
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