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.
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, also failed to have Chen examined for indications of pedophilia, and failed to call an expert to testify as to whether Chen had any signs of being a child molester.
Weinberg presented evidence that the girl had complained to her mother that she didn’t like Chen and wanted a different teacher. Her mother told her that she would not allow a change unless Chen did something inappropriate, and almost immediately the girl made the allegation of fondling. Weinberg also presented the testimony of an expert he retained to examine Chen. The expert said Chen did not fit the profile of a child molester.
On June 1, 2009, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall agreed and set aside the conviction on the basis of inadequate legal assistance to Chen. On November 2, 2009, the charges were dismissed.
– Maurice Possley