Vietnamese entertainer pleads guilty to child molesting in US

By Duc Tri, That Son   August 10, 2016 | 08:22 pm PT
Minh Beo will be sentenced in December to 18 months in prison.

Popular Vietnamese actor and comedian Hong Quang Minh, who goes by the stage name Minh Beo or Fat Minh, pleaded guilty on Wednesday at a court in California to child molesting charges.

Minh was arrested on March 24 on charges of having oral sex with a 16-year-old boy and attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under 14 years old. The second charge against Minh came from a meeting he had tried to arrange with a police officer who was acting as a 13-year-old boy.

He has been held at Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County since March.

During the 15-minute trial yesterday, Minh pleaded guilty to having sex with a 16-year-old boy and attempting to commit a sexual assault on a boy under 14 years old. He will be sentenced to 18 months in state prison in December and must register as a sex offender for life, said Orange County prosecutors.

Entertainment firm boss Dung Taylor and reporter Ngoc Lan who were present at the trial said the plea deal was quickly accepted after Judge Derek G. Johnson had finished reading the indictment.

Defense attorney Japanese-American Mia Yamamoto, a trans-woman, who was voted among the 100 most influential lawyers in California, was described standing next to an interpreter throughout the trial to defend Minh.

The judge allowed the media to attend the trial despite Minh’s strong opposition. In court, he tried to shield himself from the public glare by squatting down behind the bars.

He was wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and appeared to have lost weight with dark circles under his eyes, said a reporter present at the court.

Before the trial on Wednesday, some lawyers said it would soon come to the point when Minh had no choice but to plead guilty.

According to Thien Thanh, a relative of Minh, Judge Derek Johnson, prosecutor Bobby Taghavi and defense attorney Mia Yamamoto had a long discussion during a hearing that took place on July 28. He said Yamamoto appeared to make concessions to the prosecutor, which possibly showed that there was enough evidence to force Minh to plead guilty.

It is reported that Minh spoke on March 20 to a group of dancers at a talent show at a radio station in Huntington Beach, telling them he was holding auditions for a project in California.

He was then accused of having oral sex with a boy on March 23 when the victim came for an audition, according to prosecutors.

The boy reported the incident to Garden Grove police, who immediately launched an investigation against Minh.

The next day, an undercover police officer acting as a 13-year-old boy managed to contact Minh, who was subsequently arrested for attempting to set up a meeting with a child under 14 years old with the intent of committing a sexual assault, according to prosecutors.

Minh has performed on a number of television programs and movies in the U.S. and Vietnam. He has received awards for his contributions to culture and art 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.

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