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posted: 10/18/2012 8:50 PM

Elmhurst wedding crasher convicted of molestation attempt

Man tried to molest girl at Elmhurst reception

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  • Priyang Parikh

      Priyang Parikh

 

After he was accused of crashing an Elmhurst wedding reception and trying to sexually assault a 7-year-old girl, Priyang Parikh told police he hadn't had sex in a while and figured children would be "easy targets."

What he hadn't counted on, prosecutors said, was a group of them chasing him from the reception hall as he tried to hold up his pants.

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On Thursday, a DuPage County jury deliberated about three hours before convicting the Virginia man of attempted predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and sexual exploitation of a child.

The verdict came after Parikh's defense team offered its only evidence -- a presentation where the 31-year-old stood before jurors and showed his teeth to demonstrate they were not crooked, as the victim told police.

Prosecutors scoffed, contending Parikh was only trying to take the focus off the "overwhelming" evidence against him, including a confession, by picking at minor inconsistencies in the young victim's account.

"This is not an identification case," Assistant State's Attorney Anne Therieau said in closing arguments. "We've got him on surveillance. We've got him in wedding clips. The victim identified him, and -- hello -- he identified himself."

Parikh flew in to Chicago the weekend before the reception in September 2010. His attorneys acknowledged he was not invited to the 500-guest gala but maintained he did have another wedding in the area to attend.

Prosecutors said Parikh searched out children to abuse while clapping along with the crowd and talking into his cellphone as if he were preoccupied. He eventually found a group of unattended children playing tag in hallway outside the main reception area and had them form a line to receive lollipops.

The first girl in line -- a 7-year-old -- was taken into a nearby breakfast room with no video surveillance. That's where Parikh told her to open her mouth and close her eyes, then dropped his pants and underwear to his ankles, according to testimony.

Surveillance footage captured Parikh running from the building seconds later with several children chasing after him as he tried to hold up his pants.

Weeks later, prosecutors said, Parikh called police, who had circulated his photo in the media, and confessed that he crashed the wedding because he hadn't had sex recently and thought children would be "easy targets."

"He didn't count on these kids being so brave and chasing him and coming to court," said Therieau, who prosecuted the case with Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl.

Defense attorney David Duncan questioned the integrity of Parikh's alleged confession, which wasn't recorded. He said it didn't make sense that his client would try to molest children in a public place and then hand himself over to authorities "like a lamb to the slaughter."

"He didn't say those things; the detective said those things," Duncan said. "No one recorded it. No one else was on the phone. Does it make sense to you that he would call and confess?"

Parikh could be sentenced to probation or four to 15 years in prison by Judge Kathryn Creswell, who presided over his trial. He returns to court next month.

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