Trial Begins for Va. Man Accused of Exposing Himself, Attempting to Assault Young Girl at Wedding
Prosecutors call ‘wedding crasher’ a child predator; details come out on the first day of trial Wednesday.
Testimony in the trial of a Virginia man accused of exposing himself to a young girl in Elmhurst in 2010 began Wednesday, with prosecutors calling Priyang Parikh a “predator,” while his defense questioned the girl’s identification of their client.
Parikh, 30, of Alexandria, Va., has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in connection to an incident that occurred during a wedding ceremony at an Elmhurst banquet hall.
In her opening statement to jurors, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne Therieau describe Parikh as a “wedding crasher” who didn’t know the couple getting married, yet still involved himself in the festivities to the point he appeared in photos and videos taken during the lengthy ceremony.
“Little did they know there was a predator in their midst,” Therieau said of the couple and their guests. “It will become clear to all of you … he sure made an attempt to fit in.”
Therieau went on to explain how Parikh approached a group of children playing in a hallway to offer them lollipops. When some said they would take the candy, Parikh lined up the kids and then took the then-7-year-old girl into a breakfast area adjacent to the hallway.
“He makes sure no one is around,” Therieau said. “He tells her to close her eyes and open her mouth.”
The girl, however, opened her eyes to see Parikh’s pants and underwear pulled down and his penis exposed, Therieau said. The girl immediately ran out and warned the other children that Parikh was a stranger. The children then followed Parikh around until he fled the hotel.
“He ran from these 7-year-olds … into the parking lot holding up his pants,” Therieau said.
The girl, who prosecutors said will testify, told adults at the ceremony about what happened, and the police were called. Investigators eventually put together a news release about the incident which, with the help of a wedding photographer and a musician, included a photo of Parikh. The musician said Parikh approached him earlier in the day to ask what time the ceremony started—something Therieau said was a sign Parikh didn’t belong.
Parikh, after returning to Virginia, called police to say he was the man pictured in the news release, while admitting he had exposed himself, Therieau added.
Parikh's attorney David Duncan countered prosecutors in his opening by suggesting to jurors that the girl’s recollection of events and her description of the offender don’t add up to Parikh. He said Parikh did come to Illinois for a wedding, just not the one he ended up participating in.
“There was no hiding, no secrecy,” Duncan said of Parikh’s actions in the ceremony and the pink shirt he wore.
The girl offered descriptions of the shirt and the vehicle Parikh fled to that do not match up with Parikh, Duncan explained.
“You’ll have to decide whether what this girl saw was real or not,” he added.
Duncan also disputed the idea Parikh lured the girl into an area where no one would see his actions. He said the breakfast area was visible to many “in a very public place” and that surveillance video shows someone walking out of the area at the time prosecutors allege Parikh attempted to assault the girl.
The trial is expected to last the remainder of the week.