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Vietnamese comedian’s U.S. sex abuse trial date moved

By That Son, Duc Tri   June 30, 2016 | 01:49 am PT
Vietnamese comedian’s U.S. sex abuse trial date moved
Attorney Mia Yamamoto asked the court to move the next hearing date to July 28 during the fourth trial of Minh's child abuse scandal. Photo by VnExpress.
A fourth trial for an alleged child abuse scandal involving Minh Beo – a renowned Vietnamese comedian – has been postponed again in the U.S. until the end of July.

On June 29, Vietnamese comedian Minh Beo showed up to court at Orange County Superior Court, California. This is the fourth time Minh has appeared in court after three months of detention at Theo Lacy Prison since he was arrested for alleged child sexual abuse in March.

However, the hearing lasted for only two minutes, similar to the previous one held on May 29. “Attorney Mia Yamamoto asked the court to adjourn and move the next hearing to July 28. The reason for the postponement was not mentioned. Minh smiled after he and Yamamoto had a brief exchange afterwards,” said Ngoc Lan, a reporter for a Vietnamese newspaper in the U.S.

Minh wore an orange jumpsuit and appeared at 10 a.m. to wait for the hearing. “The actor looked more refreshed compared to previous trials,” said Vu Hoang Lan, television reporter for a Vietnamese channel in the U.S. “Kien, Minh’s brother, also appeared at the court with friends."

Minh's mother was not present for the hearing, but many reporters and fans of the comedian attended this latest trial. Show organizer Dung Taylor, a friend of Minh, said Yamamoto had stepped in to shield him from reporters’ cameras. She also asked the judge not to allow any photos of Minh to be taken.

Lan, who has attended nearly all of the comedian's hearings, said Yamamoto exited the court without speaking to Minh’s family or his close friends. However, she did answer some questions from a Vietnamese American newspaper, which is a rare thing for her to do.

Immediately after the hearing, Anh Tuan, who is on Minh's old legal team, said Yamamoto’s request to delay the hearing was a common move for lawyers in the U.S. He said she probably needed more time to negotiate with the prosecution because the plea bargain remains undecided.

Thien Thanh, a relative of Minh Beo, said it was one of the tactics used to buy more time for lawyers. According to Thanh, Yamamoto did not request the court to reduce the amount of bail money for her client but only asked to delay the hearing, leaving Minh behind bars.

The U.S. law defines the term a person spends in prison from the day they are first detained while waiting for pending trial. The lowest sentence the defendant faces is three to six months in jail. So far, he has served more than three months in detention. If somehow Yamamoto manages to get Minh the lowest sentence, then Minh has already served a large part of his jail time, according to Thanh.

Hong Quang Minh, who goes by the stage name Minh Beo, has performed in a number of television programs and movies in the U.S. and Vietnam. Minh received awards for his contributions to culture and arts in Vietnam, and he was the founder of a comedy theater named after him in Ho Chi Minh City. The comedian went to the U.S. on March 18 to perform in California.

On March 20, Minh approached a group of dancers participating in a radio contest on Huntington Beach, according to Orange County’s prosecutor. He allegedly molested a boy on March 23. This boy's family reported the incident to the police and the authorities quickly arrested the actor a few days later.

Minh was charged on March 25, 2016, with multiple felonies of child sex abuse. They include one felony count of oral copulation of a minor, one felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, and one felony count of meeting with a minor with the intent to engage in lewd conduct, according to a press release from the Orange County District Attorney.

The arrest of the 38-year-old entertainer came as a shock to many people, including his fans back in Vietnam. He is expected to face up to five years and eight months in jail if convicted.

Vietnam and the US have no mutual legal assistance treaty, so in principle, the offender will be tried according to the law where he/she commits a crime. In the case of Minh Beo, he will be tried under U.S. law.

Related news:

> Vietnamese actor arrested in U.S. on child sex charges

> Vietnamese comedian turns to new lawyer in U.S. child sex case

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