The alleged victim told police a male client had groped her after coming to her shop with two teenage clients
A Toronto hairdresser and his estranged wife face additional charges in the alleged sexual abuse of a teenage client who reported the abuse to police, in a case that has put a spotlight on a lucrative hairdressing industry known for risky grooming and exploitation.
On Tuesday, on top of pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy this spring, Dipesh Shah was charged with two counts of trafficking a child and assault with a weapon.
He is the first suspect in the case to be charged by police, but he and his estranged wife Priya Shah, who was previously charged with lesser charges of sexual assault and trafficking, are not the only ones charged. Seven more suspects face charges.
According to the boy’s statement to police, Dipesh Shah came to his store in January and introduced two teenage boys as his sons to the girl, who was the child’s mother’s hair stylist.
He also picked out two “dresses” he was looking for the boys to wear to the school dance, according to police. After the kids arrived, Dipesh and Priya Shah were in the salon while the girl was in the back with another client.
When the accused and client were alone in the same room, the hair stylist allegedly went into his son’s clothes drawer and grabbed a set of underwear and started to pull them down, before pinching and squeezing the 14-year-old’s bottom, according to police.
At some point, Dipesh also pushed the teen down the hallway to another area of the store, according to police.
The boy described him pulling his pants down and saying he could “put a finger up his testicles”, according to police. Later Dipesh left the store with the boy’s clothes, but then got back in, made him do squats and put his thumb inside the boy’s mouth, police said.
The boy’s statement to police said Dipesh told the boy he was being punished for “messing up”, and that the teenage clients had dropped by with Dipesh to get their hair styles. In court, Shah’s lawyer said his client and the boys were involved in a relationship of “mutual sexual interest”.
A Toronto police spokeswoman, Katrina Arrogante, said the woman, who pleaded guilty on Monday to two charges of trafficking children, was released on bail to return to court on Monday. The judge has set her bail at $100,000.
She was charged with the child trafficking after police got a tip that the boy was being raped, and contacted a relative of the man, who tipped off police.
The boy reported the alleged abuse in April after the mother of his friend became suspicious of his relationship with Dipesh.