Chinese tenor’s son sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape Published: 2013-9-26 14:04:00

       Editor's Note

The teenage son of Li Shuangjiang, a renowned Chinese tenor, was sentenced to ten years in prison for rape on September 26, according to Beijing Haidian District People's Court.

Five men were detained on February 21 after a woman surnamed Yang reported to police that she had been taken to a hotel and gang raped after drinking with the men in a bar on February 17.

The case soon came to the spotlight as the son of Li, dean of the music department of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Arts, was among the five suspects.

         Latest  News

Child criminals
Mei Zhigang, a sociology professor at Central China Normal University, said that an increasing number of juvenile delinquencies in China are conducted in groups, usually involving violence, sexual abuse and drug trafficking.

Son of PLA singers stands trial in Beijing court for alleged gang rape

The teenage son of two renowned Chinese singers, who was allegedly involved in a gang rape case, stood trial in a local court in Beijing on Wednesday.

       Court Verdict

The five defendants in the case, including four juveniles, were given prison terms ranging from three to 12 years, according to the Beijing Haidian District People's Court.

Source: Beijing Haidian District People's Court -


Feb. 17
Five men, including Li Guanfeng, took a woman to a hotel and gang raped her after drinking in a bar.
Feb. 19
The five were detained after the woman reported to the police.
Feb. 21
Microblogger @”Wangfeng-SCMP”, certificated as website editor of South China Morning Post, whistleblowed that a young man named Li Guanfeng was held in crimimal detention on suspition of gang rape.
Feb. 22
Police insiders who requested anonymity said Li Guanfeng is the son of Li Shuangjiang.

Feb. 27

Detention of the five suspects, including Li, was extended a month due to the complexity of the case.

Mar. 7

Li and the other four suspects were officially arrested.
Mar. 19  Li retained as counsel Xue Zhenyuan, a lawyer from the Beijing Lutong United Law Firm, who claimed that at the time in question Li was a legal minor. 
Mar. 27
The case was transferred to the Haidian District Procuratorate Attorney’s Office, which haldnes cases involving minors. It was determined the trial would not be open to the public. 
Apr. 6  Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate heard Li’s case. 
Jun. 25  Attorney Xue Zhenyuan told the Beijing Times that he had resigned as Li’s counsel. 
Jun. 27  Beijing police confirmed they had completed their investigation and a trial date would soon be announced. 
Jul. 2  Beijing police denied allegations that four of the yet-unnamed suspects came from influential families. 
Jul. 4  The procuratorate requested further police investigation due to lack of evidence and other complications. 
Jul. 8  The Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate formally charged all five suspects with rape. 
Jul. 13  Unnamed hackers demanding justice broke into the back end of the Beijing RanMin Law Firm website, one of the law firms representing Li. 
Jul. 17  Tsinghua law professor Yi Yanyou fanned the flames of controversy surrounding the case in a Weibo post saying, “prostitutes, escorts and bar girls were more likely to consent to sex, and thus it was more acceptable to rape one of them than rape a normal girl.”

Under a barrage of online criticism, Yi deleting his post only to further put his foot in his mouth by clarifying that “it's not OK to rape a bar girl, but that raping a bar girl would do less harm than raping a ‘good girl’." 
Jul. 19  Meng Ge, the mother of Li Tianyi, was called to testify on her son’s behalf during a pre-trial at the Haidian District People’s Court 
Jul. 22  Li Tianyi’s mother Meng Ge and counsel from both sides attended pre-trial hearings at the Haidian District Court. 
Aug. 15  Counsel for the plaintiff blogged details about the case obtained from the manager of the bar where the incident occurred, which refuted accusations made by Li Tianyi’s mother Meng Ge that the bar offered escort services. 
Aug. 20  The second pre-trial hearing was held in the Haidian District Court in Beijing. 
Aug. 22  The victim suddenly fainted during proceedings and was rushed to hospital. Her lawyer claimed the episode was brought on by great psychological stress. 
Aug. 28  Trial began at the Beijing Haidian District Court. 
Aug. 29  Trial ends, verdict to be announced. 
Sept. 26 Li was sentenced to ten years in prison for rape according to Beijing Haidian District People's Court.

Key points:
● It is not the first time that junior Li has gotten in trouble. He attacked a couple who allegedly blocked their driveway near the entrance of a residential community in Beijing two years ago. He was later sent to a government correctional facility for one year.

● Four of the five suspects are under the age of 18.


More photos:
Li Tianyi's mother attends pre-trial conference in Beijing

    Details in the court

Defendants Victim 
Li's lawyer, Chen Shu, told Reuters Li would not plead guilty but he declined to elaborate except to say the court was not expected to announce a verdict on Wednesday.

Li Tianyi denied having sex with the victim or beating her. Li claimed that he was not fully aware of the incident as he was drunk at the time, and insisted it was a case of prostitution rather than rape. Another defendant surnamed Wang also denied beating the victim, adding that he was threatened to confess during police interrogation.

The three other defendants, however, pleaded guilty during the first day of trial. Zhao Yunheng, counsel for a defendant surnamed Zhang, told the court that violence indeed had taken place, but requested the felony charge be reduce to a misdemeanor. Before the hearing, Zhang submitted a written apology to the victim and would like to offer Yang 100,000 yuan in compensation.

Tian Canjun, lawyer of the victim, told the Xinhua News Agency earlier that Yang, the victim, is under great psychological stress and has been hospitalized. She did not participate in the trial.

Tian told reporters that details on the case would be released after Thursday's court trial. 

          View  Points

Media comments:

No justice in court of public opinion
Li's trial shows that in China, a lot of factors are influencing, or at least trying to influence legal judgments. Administrative power and public opinion are consecutively making that influence. The independence of the judiciary is still the biggest challenge when facing these eye-catching cases.

Public opinion no replacement for rule of law
However, it should be made clear that public opinion can never replace the rule of law. And the judicial process should try its best to avoid being held hostage by public opinion. A line must be drawn so that a balanced state will be formed - let public opinion be a constructive supervisor of law enforcement instead of an invader. Only when this is the case, regardless of who the defendant or the plaintiff is, will justice be guaranteed.

Public pressure threatens judicial impartiality
This gang rape case faces the dual aspects of the judicial system and morality. Public opinion has mixed up the two and is using morality to put pressure on judicial matters. 

An article on People's Daily online commented that public figures have more influence on society simply because their behavior garners more attention.
This effectively obligates them to act responsibly in order to help educate the next generation and honor the parents.

Global Times
quoted an expert in an article suggesting that the second generation of officials and celebrities are more likely to commit crimes.
Liu Kaiming, director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, a Shenzhen-based civil think tank, told the Global Times on February 24 that it's the abuse of power of the privileged class and their children's lack of accountability that provokes such a heated response from the public.

"Another reason for the public interest in Li Guanfeng's case was that his behavior stands in sharp contrast with the honorable image of his father", Liu noted.Beijing News pointed out that although public outrage is understandable, Web users still must adhere to the law when expressing their opinions on issues involving minors.
The paper cited article 58 of the "Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors," which stipulates that the identities of minors may not be disclosed in news reports, TV programs or any other media before trial.
"The information circulating about Li on the Internet already violates the law. Media should protect minors and not the reverse," read the article.

An opinion piece in Daily Sunshine, a Shenzhen-based newspaper, indicated that media should not be overly cautious when discussing Web users' criticism of the privileged class, because neither media nor public opinion can interfere with legal judgments in a nation ruled by law.

Weibo Voices:

@Chris_Amy2012:How do we advance the rule of law if it can be bent by an individual's social influence? Nobody will abide by law if punishment is too lenient. 
@湖水蓝:Li's mother was reported to have said she would respect any punishment handed to her son by the courts, but hoped for understanding and lenience from the general public and media. I think his parents should first apologize to the victims and society. Actually, since Li's parents failed to properly educate their son, they should be held responsible as well. 

Expert opinions:

Ding Xilin, editor-in-chief, Xinmin Weekly
Li Tianyi’s case shows not only the failure of social education, but the loss of home education. Normally, kids in famous families have better conditions and more chances than those from ordinary families. The depravity of celebrities’ offspring is closely related to their parents’ spoiling and a lack of discipline. In fact, these spoiled children are the product of indulgent parents.

Yao Bo, web commentator
I see Li Tianyi’s case as a good chance for us to rethink the teenagers’ reeducation system. In the past, troubled teenagers were kept in reeducation camps with others with similar problems. If the punishment could be replaced by other methods, such as community service, psychological treatment and so on, these teenagers could have a chance to leave their environment behind and become better through communicating with kind people.

Xia Xueluan, professor in sociology, Peking University

The failure of education has led to spoiled children from celebrity families. Those indulged kids study in private schools, drive luxury cars and have nothing to worry about in life. The fortunate conditions of their family have taught them to lord it over others.


Previous  Scandal
  Sept. 8, 2011
  A residential community in Haidian district, Beijing
  Li Guanfeng attacked a couple who allegedly blocked their driveway.
  Famous singer Li Shuangjiang apologized to the couple that were beaten by his son;
  Li Guanfeng was sent to a juvenile facility for  a one-year detention.
  Li Guanfeng's voices at the scene
  “Who dare to call the police?”
  “I will give you 2,000 yuan ($313), let me go.”
People stand near two cars in a residental area in Beijing's Haidian district after they blocked two drivers from fleeing the scene where they beat a couple in a brawl.Photo: CFP
  Related reports
  Youth attacker sent to juvenile facility despite victims' forgiveness
Famous PLA singer says sorry for son's violent attack
Spoilt rich can’t dodge justice

About Li Guanfeng's family
Mother Meng Ge (left)
Age: 47
Job: PLA singer
Father Li Shuangjiang (middle)
Age: 74
Job: PLA singer
Son Li Guanfeng (right)
Former name: Li Tianyi
Age: 17

  Celebritots'  Scandals

Zhang Mo, son of actor Zhang Guoli

Zhang was detained for drug use on January 31, 2012, where after spending 13 days in police custody, issued a public apology. His father, renowned Chinese actor Zhang Guoli, apologized for his son’s conduct and asked for the public’s forgiveness. Zhang also made news in 2004 after allegedly beating his ex-girlfriend Tong Yao.
Nicholas Tse, son of Hong Kong actor Yin Tse

Tse was accused of destroying public property after crashing his Ferrari into roadside railings on March 23, 2002 and found others to take the rap. Tse was detained for 14 days and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.
1 Edson “Edinho” Cholbi Nascimento, son of Pele

Nascimento was once arrested by police on a drug charge in southeastern Brazil in 2005. Half a year later, he was released on bail. However two months later he was charged with criminal association with drug traffickers and put in jail. Pele was visibly upset at a news conference addressing the incident, admitting his son had been involved with cocaine traffickers. (source: Sina)

         News Vocab

讯问 xùnwèn

“讯” v. interrogate; question(Source: 《新世纪汉英大词典》)
“问” v. inquire; ask, cross-examine(Source: 《新世纪汉英大词典》)
“讯问” v. interrogate; question(Source: 《新世纪汉英大词典》)

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