Guilty verdicts in massage indecency trial

May 6, 2014 | By More

A 60-year-old man has been found guilty of 14 charges of indecent assaults on three women customers who say they were touched inappropriately while they were being given Chinese massages.

The jury’s verdicts were announced in court after about 10 hours of deliberations that began late on Monday morning. The jury found Cunbin Zhang not guilty on two of the indecency charges.

Zhang was remanded in custody for sentencing on July 4 by Judge Stephen O’Driscoll at the end of his six-day trial in the Christchurch District Court.

The jury could not reach a verdict – even after being allowed to decide on the charge by an 11-1 majority – on the 17th charge.

The verdicts meant that Zhang was found guilty of offences relating to three women, but there were no guilty verdicts involving the fourth complainant. The jury found Zhang not guilty on two of her complaints and could not reach agreement on the third charge which related to touching her inner thigh. Zhang was discharged by judge on that charge.

All of the offences related to full-body massages given at two massage shops by the man who had limited training and experience. He had been instructed about areas he was not allowed to touch during massages.

The Crown said as the trial began that all the offences involved conduct that could be regarded as indecent, and that Zhang would have known that it was indecent.

The charges alleged he had massaged or touched women’s breasts, inner thighs, pubic areas, and buttocks. One charge alleged that he pulled a woman’s nipples and another that he pulled buttocks apart.

The defence questioned whether the touching occurred in the way described, and whether the touching was indecent or was part of the full body Chinese oil massage.

A Mandarin interpreter translated the proceedings for Zhang throughout the trial.

The pre-sentence report being prepared for his sentencing will consider his suitability for a home detention term.

The prosecution began with one woman making a complaint about her treatment during a massage, and when the police publicised the case, they were approached by more complainants.

Judge O’Driscoll asked for a pre-sentence report, a home detention report, and victim impact reports on the three woman complainants. “The probability of a sentence of imprisonment is high. The remand will be in custody.”

At his sentencing, Zhang will receive a first-strike warning under the system that imposes heavier sentences on repeat violent or sexual offenders.

Category: Focus

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