Police have made an arrest in a multi-jurisdictional sexual assault investigation involving four different women in Toronto and Collingwood between July 2015 and November 2019.
At a news conference at police headquarters on December 17, Supt. Pauline Gray, who is in charge of the Sex Crimes & Homicide units, said the collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police, Centre of Forensic Sciences and, more importantly, the victims was instrumental in connecting the accused to the four assaults.
“Although I am mindful and incredibly proud of the collaboration and tenacity of both teams of investigators who never gave up working on finding the person responsible, I want to speak to the unbelievable commitment on the part of the four survivors who were the victims of these violent crimes,” she said. “It is they who ultimately provided the evidence to catch this man. I am grateful to them for coming forward and trusting us with their stories. Know that you are heroes.”
Det. Insp. Darren Webster, of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Criminal Investigation Branch, said the joint partnership commenced after the second assault in January 2017.
“We are grateful for the work of the Toronto Police Service and OPP investigators who never gave up and were committed to finding the person responsible,” he said. “As a Major Case Manager, I know first hand the significance and importance of joint partnerships and sharing information. Policing in today’s environment requires us to work seamlessly and without borders to combat crime and ensure our communities are safe.”
It was reported that on Tuesday July 28, 2015 at around 1 a.m. in the Dufferin St. and Rogers Rd. area, a 23-year-old woman was approached from behind by a man, dragged into a laneway and sexually assaulted. A weapon was indicated at the time, but not seen.
On January 1, 2017 at approximately 1.50 a.m., officers from the Collingwood OPP detachment responded to a report that a 17-year-old girl was pulled into a vehicle by a man and sexually assaulted. Once again, a weapon was indicated but not seen and there was markedly more violence in this assault that occurred on Birch St. at Second St.
On July 15, 2019 shortly after 10.25 p.m., a 28-year-old woman ordered a ride share service for a pick-up along Lakeshore Blvd. near Exhibition Grounds.
As a vehicle slowed alongside her as she walked along, she got into it after asking if it was the ride she had ordered and the driver led her to believe he was her ride share driver. The offender then drove her to a parking lot in the area of Jane St. and Eglinton Ave. W. and sexually assaulted her, making death threats as he did so. The offender then drove away from the area at a high rate of speed.
The last incident reported to police occurred on November 1, 2019 in the early morning hours when a 22-year-old woman was taken from the Polson St. and Cherry St. area of Toronto to a parking lot and sexually assaulted in a vehicle.
The woman took note of the licence plate and contacted police.
Armed with the license plate number and evidence provided by the Centre of Forensic Sciences, investigators were able to link the four cases. Investigators had the accused DNA profile.
Hours after the alleged assault, Dipesh Patel, 34, of Toronto was arrested and charged in relation to the November 2019 incident.
After further investigation, Toronto Police and OPP officers are alleging the man is responsible for all four incidents.
As a result, he is facing 20 charges, including extortion and assault with a weapon.
Investigators are concerned there may be other victims and are asking anyone with information to contact police.
“It is not lost on me or the professional members of the respective agencies that coming forward to report a sexual assault is not an easy decision,” added Gray. “But if there are other women or girls who recognize this man and have information, contact us.”
Webster concurred with Gray, saying the strength in the women coming forward, which could not have been easy, can’t be overlooked.
“The victims supplied vital information that helped to solve this case,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474, the OPP at 1-888-310-1122, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.