MAYS LANDING — Hiten Patel and the seven women he's accused of sexually assaulting had reasons to keep certain parts of their lives secret, according to closing arguments given Tuesday at the Egg Harbor Township man's rape trial.
But where the truth lies is now for a jury to decide.
Patel, 35, is accused of assaulting seven women over a five-week span in the summer of 2012.
On one side, Patel kept his life seeking out prostitutes a secret; on the other, many of the women held back from police certain facts about themselves or failed to report the alleged attacks.
Defense attorney James Leonard Jr. said the women did what they had to do to try to either get off the street or out of trouble.
“I don’t blame them,” he said. “In their world, you do whatever you have to do on Monday to make it to Tuesday. You lie, you cheat, you scheme, you steal, you hustle.”
Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer countered: “That’s why (Patel) chose them, because he thought they were people no one would believe.”
The women were given nothing in return for their testimony, he said.
“The only reason they came here at all was to tell you what this man did to them,” Flammer told the court.
Patel had alternate versions of the victims’ accounts of what happened between him and five of the seven women he allegedly assaulted. Two others he claimed to never have been with.
“All of the evidence puts him in a corner,” Flammer said of cell phone and E-ZPass records, along with video and police surveillance in some cases.
So, he said, Patel spun a tale of a man addicted to sex with hookers, who trolled Atlantic City’s Pacific Avenue as many as three times a week, and estimated he picked up about 200 prostitutes since 2008 or 2009.
The married father of two was an upstanding member of his community with a good job as a computer consultant contracted to work at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, Leonard said. A dozen people — including his wife — testified Monday he was an honest and peaceful man.
“They don’t know him at all,” Flammer told the jurors. “I told you in the beginning, he has a dark side. They don’t know it. You do.”
That dark side wasn’t about paying for sex, he said. “It was about him controlling these women and imposing his will.”
Leonard pointed to inconsistencies in the stories, including the final victim: T.D.
She testified that Patel flagged her down, then got out of the car. Her two friends were up in the room they had rented charging their phones, she said.
But Patel was already under surveillance as a suspect at that time. One of those watching, Lt. Rodney Ruark, testified during the trial that three women walked up to the vehicle. The man never exited. And then one of the women got in.
That matches the sequence Patel gave, when he said T.D. and her friends asked if he wanted to party. He said he just wanted one girl.
Jurors deliberated for an hour Tuesday, and will resume discussions Wednesday.
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