LaPlace hotel owner facing rape charges

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Authorities in St. John Parish are investigating complaints from two women who say a LaPlace hotel owner sexually assaulted them.

Maj. Robert Hay, lead detective for the St. John Sheriff’s Office criminal investigations division, said 38-year old Vimalkumar Patel of 4289 Main St. in Laplace could be facing rape charges in connection with two separate incidents reported to the Sheriff’s Office. Hay said Patel was booked Monday evening with simple rape and sexual battery. Patel was released later that evening after posting a $6,000 bond.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Hay declined to reveal many details about the two incidents, but said both women know Patel. He said all information collected by investigators has been turned over to the sheriff, who may make a statement sometime next week.

Hay said the simple rape charge is from a July 2006 incident. He said the alleged simple battery charge stems from an incident reported to the sheriff’s office on July 19.

According to a report from the sheriff’s office, the second complaint came from a woman who was employed as a security guard for the Best Western on Main Street and the Hampton Inn on U.S. 51, two Laplace hotels owned by the Patel family. Hay said characteristics of the complaint matched up with the 2006 complaint.

Patel and his family own several hotels from LaPlace to the Baton Rouge area. Repeated attempts to contact Patel at his home and business for comment were unsuccessful as of press time.

The St. John Sheriff’s Office said anyone with any information on these incidents should contact the criminal investigations division at 985-652-6338.