Springfield businessman charged with raping UIS student

Accused was affiliated with student exchange program

click to enlarge Xuesong “Gary” Yang faces three felony charges, including two counts of sexual assault and one count of obstructing justice.
Xuesong “Gary” Yang faces three felony charges, including two counts of sexual assault and one count of obstructing justice.
A Springfield businessman once employed by the University of Illinois Springfield in the school’s exchange student program has been charged with raping a freshman from China and has also been accused of sexually assaulting other students.

Xuesong “Gary” Yang was arrested in August. He’s been charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault and is scheduled for trial next month. He is free on $50,000 bail, which is 10 percent of his $500,000 bond, and he has surrendered his passport to authorities. Yang is president of a nonprofit management consulting firm called Lincoln Management and Professional Development Council and was once co-owner of Ginger Asian Bistro, a west side restaurant that closed several years ago.

The alleged victim told police that Yang, 54, attacked her on her 17th birthday, the day after she arrived in Springfield from China to attend UIS. The attack occurred after Yang plied her with wine in his downtown Springfield office, according to police reports.

Jason Vincent, Yang’s lawyer, declined comment. Derek Schnapp, UIS spokesman, said that Yang was employed by the university as a “visiting admissions counselor/student advisor” from Sept. 4, 2013 until Aug. 15 and was paid $30,750 per year. There is a limit of three years for such employees to work at UIS as visiting staff, Schnapp said. Yang's employment ended one week before alleged sexual assaults by him were reported. According to charging papers, Yang was a “student advisor” to the victim. Yang also helped arrange a visit of Chinese teachers to Springfield School District 186 facilities in 2011, according to a story in the State Journal-Register. According to the 2011 story, Yang had helped arrange visits of Chinese teachers and government officials to Illinois for seven years.

"The safety and well-being of our community is at the heart of the university's mission," Schnapp wrote in an email to Illinois Times. "When UIS police learned of a possible off-campus crime involving a former employee, they immediately alerted the Springfield Police Department and provided assistance in their investigation. Our campus will always support the work of the state's attorney and the other law enforcement officials who protect us and vigorously prosecute crimes affecting any member of our community."

A week after the first assault in August, the victim told police that Yang picked her up at her UIS dorm, drove her downtown and again sexually assaulted her in his office before driving her back to the university.

The victim, who doesn’t speak English, told police that she had scratched Yang on his back during one of the assaults and had also given him hickeys on his chest. Police found no scratches, but they did find what looked like hickeys on his chest during an interview that ended with Yang’s arrest. While detectives were outside the interview room, Yang attempted to obliterate the marks by scratching his chest, according to reports. In addition to two counts of sexual assault, Yang has been charged with obstructing justice by Sangamon County prosecutors who say that the scratching constituted an attempt to destroy evidence.

The alleged assaults came to light when the student told a friend what had happened, police say. The victim and friend then told a resident assistant, who then called campus police, who turned the investigation over to city police because the alleged attacks occurred off campus, according to police reports.

The victim told police that Yang threatened to get her kicked out of school and ruin her career if she told anyone about the attacks. She also said that Yang had told all UIS students from her hometown that he had the power to change their grades and send them back to China. She said that she was afraid of Yang because she thought he had the power to revoke her visa as well as visas held by her family. She also said that she wasn’t Yang’s first victim.

“(She) said there is a male subject who has already graduated that she believes Yang had sex with,” a detective wrote in a police report. “She could not provide any information except that the upper classmates said that all students 17 or 18 that Yang brings from China have sex with him but she does not know what kind of agreement they have with him.”

The victim’s story was backed by two exchange students who told police that they had witnessed Yang threaten the victim. The students also provided police with the names of two other exchange students whom they said had been sexually assaulted by Yang but were afraid to come forward.

It’s not clear whether the alleged victim is still at UIS. Sangamon County state’s attorney John Milhiser said that the investigation is continuing and Yang’s trial set for Feb. 6 will likely be postponed.

“If there are any additional victims or additional charges that are appropriate, they will be filed,” Milhiser said.

The alleged victim and another UIS student told police that Yang recruits students to come from China to attend UIS. One of the students told police that families pay between $14,000 and $48,000 “Chinese currency” as a fee for getting into college. It’s not clear from police reports who received the reported payments.

Wine and rape
Speaking with the help of an interpreter, the alleged victim told police that Yang picked her up in Chicago the day she arrived in the United States. She said that she thought that she was supposed to travel with other students, but for some reason arrived from China before they did.

During the drive from Chicago to Springfield, the victim told police that Yang spoke of sex, telling her that the United States is different from China because “a lot of people have affairs and sex partners,” according to a police report.

“He told her that in the United States people will go to Vegas and get crazy before they get married,” a detective wrote in a report. “(The student) said that Yang asked her what she thought about sex before marriage. (The student) said she understood ‘sex’ and she understood ‘partner’ but she did not understand ‘sex partners.’”

The alleged victim said that Yang told he that he hugged her or put his arm around her because “it is an American culture.” The day after she arrived at UIS, she told police that he was going to help her celebrate her 17th birthday. After getting take-out food from Tai Pan, a Chinese restaurant on Adlai Stevenson Drive, she said that Yang drove her to his downtown office, where they ate and drank wine.

“Yang told her if she did not drink on her birthday it would not be a celebration and was a let down,” a detective who interviewed the alleged victim wrote in a report. “(She) said she had too much to drink and told him she did not want any more but he told her it would be disrespectful to him to turn it down. (She) said between the two of them they drank a bottle and a half of wine.”

The alleged victim said that she became so dizzy that Yang had to help her to the bathroom. When she was finished in the bathroom, she told police that Yang pushed her onto a couch, removed her clothing as well as his, then had sex with her on the floor. She said she fell asleep, and when she awoke, Yang again had sex with her.

“(She) said he asked her if he could have sex with her, but she did not answer him,” a detective wrote. “She said it was like he was talking to himself. She said Yang asked her this after she was already laying on the floor and he had taken her clothes off of her. (She) said she did not ever answer him.

Under Illinois law, it isn’t necessarily against the law for an adult to have sex with someone who is 17, but it’s illegal if the adult “holds a position of trust, authority or supervision” over the younger person.

Six days after the first attack, the alleged victim told police that Yang told her that she needed to go out with him. She said Yang picked her up at her dorm and drove her to his downtown office.

“(She) said she was afraid and did not say anything to him,” a detective wrote in his report. “Yang told (her) she only needed to do two things. (She) said Yang told her she needed to have sex with him and study. (She) said when they got to his office, the same thing happened that had happened the first time except this time there was no food or wine.”

Yang talks to police

Yang, who has pleaded innocent to all charges, denied having sex with the alleged victim during an interview with police, who gave him copies of search warrants for his office and to obtain saliva samples for DNA testing when he sat down for questioning. Police who searched his office recovered an empty bottle of Cialis with his name on it, tissues, bedding, three laptop computers, a cellular phone, a towel and bedding.

Yang told detectives that most of the Chinese students at UIS were brought to Springfield by him.

“I asked him how many students had he brought from China this year,” a detective wrote in a report. “He advised seven and then 10 scholars. I asked him how this works. He says the University of Illinois in Springfield needs more students. He said this is basically to pay for the (university’s) operations.”

Schnapp, the UIS spokesman, said that he was not prepared to answer questions beyond responding to basic employment information about Yang.

Yang described the alleged victim as “a troubled kid" and told detectives that he knows her father and that a parent wanted her to leave China because she was having sex, according to a police report.

“He said she is not wanted,” a detective wrote in his report. “He said she comes from a very rich family. … He said this is terrible. He talks about UIS being a top notch university. He talked about her father being very nice.”

A detective told Yang that if he had licked or kissed the alleged victim, police would find out from the results of a sexual assault test undergone by the alleged victim. The alleged victim had told police that she had scratched Yang’s back and given him a hickeys on his chest the second time they had sex. When detectives asked Yang if he had any marks on his chest, he laughed and unbuttoned his shirt.

Detectives found no scratches, but there were red marks on Yang’s chest, according to a police report. When a detective asked Yang how he got the marks on his chest, he said that he had scratched himself, according to a police report.

“He then began to scratch the area where the marks were located,” a detective wrote. “I told him they were not scratch marks but suck marks. He asked me what suck marks were and was told they are hickeys. It was explained to him that it is from someone sucking on his chest. I told him that this is what it looks like to me. I told him that I believe that if his DNA comes back (from the sexual assault test performed on the victim) he will be in a lot of trouble with the law. He said ‘Oh my god.’ He was nervous and moved his copy of the search warrant underneath the microphone.”

Detectives told Yang that if sex had been consensual, that would be one thing, but if he had forced himself on the alleged victim, that would be another.

“I told him it was one or the other because I can guarantee him that I have semen that has been recovered,” a detective wrote in his report. “I said that there was a search warrant completed at his office. I told him that we took a black light in, went over his office and the results from the lab will not be good for him. I said that it is his call to either minimize it or maximize it. I asked him if he wants to say it never happened, then OK.”

At that point, Yang asked for a lawyer.

Detectives told Yang that he wasn’t under arrest and someone would probably take him home. After Yang asked detectives to call his lawyer, police left the interview room and decided that Yang wouldn’t be going home that night. Based on the marks on his chest, he would be arrested.

While police were out of the room, Yang scratched his chest for more than 30 minutes, according to a police report. Even as police took photographs of his chest before taking him to jail that night, Yang pointed to his chest and said that he had scratched himself, according to a detective’s report.

This isn’t the first time that Yang has been accused of inappropriate behavior. In 2009, a 19-year-old employee at Ginger Asian Bistro called police and told officers that Yang had walked up to her from behind, grabbed her shoulders and squeezed her. After reviewing a video that showed the area where it had reportedly happened and seeing nothing untoward, police took no action. The woman told police that she called police “because she does not like to be grabbed by other people.”

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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