Former daycare worker gets 25 years for sexually assaulting 5-year-old

A Detroit man and former daycare worker was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison Friday for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl.

Michael Pankey was sentenced to 25 to 50 years for first-degree criminal sexual conduct for a person under 13 years of age, 2 to 15 years for second-degree criminal sexual conduct and 1 to 4 years for possession of child sexually abusive material. He must also submit to lifetime electronic monitoring.

Though no family was present in the courtroom, a statement was read on their behalf, describing the damaging effects the crime has left on the child. The victim's parent wrote that she has issues trusting people, bed wetting and consistently brings up what happened to her.

"If it were up to me, I would never let this man out of prison. There are some things only God can forgive. Habitual sexual assault of children is not one of them," the family said. 

Former daycare worker charged with raping 5-year-old, child porn

Given the opportunity to speak before learning his sentence, Pankey said because family of victims were not present, the letter he wrote on his behalf would suffice. The judge read an excerpt.

"You state 'I did not rape [retracted]. I saw her sleeping as an opportunity to satisfy a curiosity without hurting her. She would feel no physical pain. I would never harm a child. (She) is not dead, crippled, maimed, in a coma, or mentally damaged. It is unjust to consider oral sex the same as rape. It is patently unfair to make me deal with lifetime monitoring. There is nothing in my past that suggests I need such restrictions. My crimes did not merit 25 years in prison.'

"Mr. Pankey, after reading your letter, I'm even more convinced that you are a sick man. You actually believe that you did not harm the girls that you sexually abused because you didn't cause them any physical harm. For whatever reason unknown to me you were trusted to babysit a 5-year-old victim while her mother was at work. It wasn't until she began to cry when her mother was about to drop her off at your house again that she told her mother that she never wanted to go back to your house."

Police fear more victims of daycare worker charged with child rape

The judge went on to describe another 12-year-old victim, who was the child of Pankey's girlfriend. She said Pankey was supposed to serve as a father figure for that child, but instead, abused them.

Back in 2017 when Pankey was first charged, Detroit Police Department Officer Brian Herndon said he saw some of the videos and images Pankey had of children.

"It was the most disturbing day of my life," he said. 

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.

According to police, Pankey targeted children of all ages.