[Update 12.14.10] Nearly two months after local police arrested former San Gabriel Mayor Albert Huang for robbery and battery following a dumpling house spat, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office have rejected the case has against him due to the alleged victim's disappearance.
"They have filed a reject slip at this time that they cannot proceed that the victim is uncooperative and unavailable," said Lt. Darren Perrine, who is investigating the case for the San Gabriel Police Department.
The alleged victim, Lu Chen, has failed to respond to various requests from the police for interviews and has not been seen at her massage parlor since the incident. “We have reason to believe that she is no longer in this country,” said Lt. Darren Perrine, who is investigating the case for the San Gabriel Police Department. “It’s quite obvious that her willingness to cooperate with the police is none.”
A masseuse at the Senses Spa said she hadn’t seen Chen since the incident happened. “Her cell phone is always off. We don’t know where to find her,” she said in Mandarin. The masseuse did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the case, adding that a friend of Chen comes in sometimes to take care of the business. Another Senses Spa masseuse told the Chinese-language newspaper World Journal that Chen previously came to the store every day.
The altercation between Chen and Huang, which made headlines in China as well as locally and was the subject of a Taiwanese CGI video, took place on October 15 at New Taste Dumpling House on Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel. Huang, who is separated from his wife, told the World Journal that he had been involved with Chen and that the dispute was because of “relationship problems.” Whatever the cause, witnesses said Chen hit Huang with a metal steamer containing pork soup dumplings. Huang then snatched Chen’s purse and sped down Prospect Avenue at approximately 45 mph while she was hanging onto the landing board of the SUV, according to the police report.
Huang was arrested at approximately 1:15 am and at that point the patrol officer took a statement from Chen, which was enough for probable cause for arrest of Albert Huang. The former mayor was released the next day on $100,000 bail. A media storm ensued and Chen, according to Lt. Perrine, “basically went into hiding.” An interview was scheduled once, but she did not show up for it. “At this point we are assuming there will be no cooperation,” he said. Perrine refused to speculate on why Chen has disappeared.
Huang resigned later that week in a tearful press conference, saying he needed touse “100% of my efforts to protect my family and to clear my name in court.” Since then, he has not been heard from publicly and a call to his lawyer was not returned.The masseuse at Senses Spa refused to answer whether she had seen Huang at the store before. “The topic is too sensitive now,” she said. However, the World Journal reported Huang had been appearing in public with Chen before the incident and invited friends to the massage parlor.
These days, though, business is not going well at Senses Spa — a neat, relatively upscale salon on San Gabriel Boulevard, with plush recliners in the main lobby for foot massage and several curtained rooms in the back for full-body massage. Only one customer was visible on a recent Saturday evening. Senses charges $20 for a 30-minute full-body massage and $15 for a foot massage. The masseuse said that their business wasn’t good to start with but had gone down after the altercation happened between Chen and Huang.
Meanwhile, the altercation and Chen’s disappearance has generated much speculation in the local Chinese American community. “People are talking about it,” said San Gabriel resident Tom Wang in Mandarin, who has many friends working in the massage industry. “People are guessing that Chen is hiding because they had some kind of agreement.”