A Vietnamese entertainer who entered his innocent plea at an arraignment last week in the U.S. now stands little chance of being acquitted as prosecutors have enough proof to find him guilty of child molestation, a local lawyer said.
Minh Beo, 38, was arrested on March 25 on three felony counts, including oral copulation of a minor, attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, and meeting a minor with the intent to engage in lewd conduct.
The Vietnamese comedian, whose real name is Hong Quang Minh, pled not guilty to all charges at Friday’s arraignment in Santa Ana, California. He is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial on May 13, then first-instance court on June 10.
|Minh Beo at the arraignment. Video: Ngoc Lan|
There is, however, little likelihood that Minh Beo will be acquitted, despite his plea of innocence, Tu Huy Hoang, a California-based attorney, told a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper contributor in Santa Ana on Sunday.
Hoang said he had had dinner with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who confirmed that there is enough evidence to convict Minh Beo of child molestation.
The parents of the boy the suspect allegedly had had oral copulation with reported the incident to police, and officers used the mobile phone of the alleged victim to text Minh Beo, Hoang said, citing Rackauckas.
During the texting conversation, Minh Beo confessed all of his offenses and those text messages are now used as both evidence against and the guilty plea of the suspect.
Prosecutors need to have witnesses, exhibits and a guilty plea to find a suspect guilty before a jury.
In the case of Minh Beo, the witness is the alleged victim, and the text messages he exchanged with the boy and police officers are exhibits and the guilty plea, according to the district attorney.
Prosecutors will present those text messages to the judge to persuade him that they have enough evidence to hand the Minh Beo case over to a jury.
Attorney Hoang continued quoting Rackauckas as saying that the jury is likely to find the suspect guilty almost immediately after knowing he is a child sex offender, as the U.S. does not tolerate child molestation.
The lawyer concluded that it is unlikely for Minh Beo to be found innocent.
“However we have to continue waiting as Minh Beo is in principle innocent until proven guilty,” Hoang said.
Minh Beo at the arraignment. Photo: OC Register
Minh Beo’s older sister and brother have come to the U.S., but they were not allowed to either see the jailed sibling or attend his arraignment.
The brother, Hong Phuoc Kien, told the Tuoi Tre contributor shortly after the arraignment ended on Friday that he hoped Minh Beo could be granted an acquittal.
Kien admitted that his family is unable to afford the US$1 million bail set for his younger brother.
The request to cut the bail was rejected at the arraignment as prosecutors were concerned Minh Beo would flee once released on bail.