December 2, 2004 in City

Man charged with online sex solicitation

Thomas Clouse Staff writer
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Patel
(Full-size photo)

A 26-year-old Spokane man appeared in court Wednesday on charges of soliciting sex online from what he thought was a 13-year-old girl, according to court records.

Mitel H. Patel, 26, who is originally from England, was arrested and charged Tuesday with attempted second-degree rape of a child after he went to a north Spokane apartment and discovered waiting detectives.

Patel, who came to the United States for his education in the early 1990s, asked District Court Judge Harold Clarke to release him on his own recognizance because he doesn’t have the money for a bond.

A prosecutor asked for a high bond and Clarke responded, ordering Patel held on a $250,000 bond.

According to court records, Spokane Police Detective Jerry Keller was posing in an online chat room as a 13-year-old girl at 7:32 a.m. Tuesday when Patel contacted Keller’s undercover screen name.

“The defendant asked if I wanted to come over to meet him to have sex,” Keller wrote in his report. “In the chat he advised me that he wanted to meet me and he wanted to bring over five flavored condoms so I would not get pregnant.”

A meeting was arranged for 1 p.m. At 12:47, Keller sent a message with the directions to the North Side apartment. “The defendant stated he would be over in 10 minutes,” Keller wrote.

About 1:05 p.m., Detective Curt Kendall was outside the apartment with a video camera as Patel approached the apartment, the documents state.

Patel – who has no previous convictions but does have a pending DUI charge – knocked on the door and a female police officer answered. The documents state that Patel asked if the officer was the girl with whom he had been chatting. The officer said yes and Patel stepped inside and was taken into custody.

During an interview, Patel admitted to chatting with the girl who had indicated that she was 13, and that he wrote he wanted to have sex with her, Keller said.

“After Patel was arrested, I found five flavored condoms and directions to the apartment, that was previously arranged, in his front pocket,” Keller said. “The defendant sent a picture of himself via e-mail to my undercover screen name. The picture was of the defendant.”

If convicted, Patel faces significant prison time and must register as a sex offender. Regardless of how the case turns out, Patel will be deported back to England because his visa has expired, police spokesman Dick Cottam said.

In an interview, Keller said the four and a half hours it took Patel to attempt to meet the girl was one of the fastest arrests he’s made in several online sex stings.

“Sometimes, it has taken months,” Keller said.


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