On September 3, 2004, Boping Chen, a 49-year-old piano teacher from Fremont, California, was arrested and charged with molesting one of his female students more than 60 times from 2001 to 2004.
The girl, who is Chinese-American, alleged that he fondled her at virtually all of her lessons, which were done in the girl’s family home in Menlo Park.
Chen went on trial before a San Mateo County Superior Court jury in March 2006. The girl testified that he fondled her during every lesson, although they were at the piano in the middle of the living room that was frequented by a nanny.
Chen, who had moved with his family from Shanghai in 2000, taught piano to about 30 students. His primary language was Mandarin and he spoke English through an interpreter at trial. He denied improperly touching the girl. The defense also presented evidence that the girl had complained to her mother that she didn’t like Chen and wanted a different teacher. When her mother told her that she would not allow a change unless Chen did something inappropriate, almost immediately the girl made the allegation of fondling.
On March 9, 2006, Chen was found guilty of 63 counts of committing lewd acts and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
After the sentencing, Chen retained a new lawyer, Doron Weinberg, who filed a post-conviction petition alleging that Chen’s lawyer had failed to call witnesses who could have testified to his good character, failed to have Chen examined for indications of pedophilia and failed to pursue any psychological or psychiatric based defenses that would have shown lack of predisposition to commit such crimes.
Weinberg presented evidence that a court-appointed psychiatrist who examined Chen after conviction and prior to sentencing found that Chen did not fit the profile of a child molester.
On June 1, 2009, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial. The judge said that for the first time in his 12 years on the bench, he found that a defendant's trial attorney had failed to provide an adequate defense. The judge held that a "reasonably competent defense attorney" would have presented evidence to the jury that Chen "lacked the propensity to commit sexually deviant acts, would have presented good character evidence that was plainly available, and would have presented evidence from an expert in Chinese language and culture to explain (Chen's) statements and demeanor" while testifying.
On November 2, 2009, San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan dismissed the charges, saying that the girl refused to testify at a second trial.
– Maurice Possley