(WJBK) - A Detroit man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl, and with producing child pornography.
Detroit police are investigating if more victims are out there, who may have attended daycares in the suburbs where Michael Pankey worked. This has been called the worst case of pedophilia the Detroit Sex Crimes investigator has ever been assigned to.
"This guy worked around a lot of kids," says Brian Herndon with Detroit Police. "I'm very concerned that we could have more potential victims out there."
The alleged abuser, Pankey, 37, formerly known as Michael Leverette, is now in federal custody facing new charges of possessing and producing child pornography.
He was also arraigned back in May on six counts of criminal sexual conduct, one count of indecent exposure and three counts of possession of sexually explicit material, for allegedly raping a 5-year-old he was babysitting in December at his home on Sorrento Street on Detroit's west side.
"I had an unfortunate opportunity last week to view some of the videos and images this guy had," Herndon says. "It was the most disturbing day of my life."
The investigation led police to the suspect's alarming past -- recently working at four day cares in the suburbs, one in Sterling Heights, one in Rochester, and two in Troy. Police say Pankey would work at one for a few months, then move to another.
"My goal is to find out if we have any more victims out there," Herndon says.
The following dates and locations is where Pankey has been employed:
- Between October 2015 and December 2016 at Little Munchkins in Sterling Heights
- Between Jan. 2016 and Sept. 2016 in Troy at Gurukul Montessori Academy
- Between Sept. 2016 and Dec. 2016 at Oakland University's Lowrey Day Daycare Center
- Dec. 2016 at North Hills Child Care Center in Troy
According to police, Pankey targeted children of all ages.
"Have that talk of 'good touch bad touch' with your child," Herndon says. "I'm hoping we don't have any kids who say anything happened, but I believe we're going to get a few."
Pankey had also recently earned a degree in early childhood and studied Macomb Community College. Police say at least one of his daycare stints was an internship.
Pankey may have come into contact with other children, particularly in the Detroit area, where he would work as a babysitter.
Anyone with an incident to report is asked to call their local police department.
So how was this alleged pedophile able to get all these jobs?
Pankey had no criminal background and, as the law stands now, there are not many requirements for daycares to do thorough background checks, although we're told there is legislation in the works forcing these places to be more strict.