Nation

Exchange student too afraid to return

A FORMER University of Illinois-Springfield employee who was accused of raping a 17-year-old Chinese exchange student has been jailed for more than six years.

His victim was in China during the court hearing, but sent a video explaining she was still afraid to return to the university.

Xuesong “Gary” Yang, 54, who was involved in the school’s foreign-exchange program, pleaded guilty in June to aggravated criminal sexual abuse and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced on Tuesday, the Springfield Journal-Register reported.

In August 2016, Yang helped the girl relocate from China to the central Illinois campus, where she planned to take classes. Investigators said Yang invited the girl to his office the day after she arrived, on her 17th birthday, and forced her to drink alcohol.

She passed out, and Yang sexually abused her, according to Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser. Yang called the victim days later and threatened to send her back to China if she didn’t have sex with him again, Milhiser said.

Yang was arrested after the victim told another student she’d been raped.

“She is still suffering emotional damage done at the hands of the defendant,” the prosecutor said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Yang asked Judge Leslie Graves for mercy and repeatedly told the judge he was sorry, calling his actions an “unspeakable offense.”

His lawyer had asked for probation, noting Yang had no prior criminal history, was remorseful and complied with terms of his release.

But the judge described Yang as a “predator” who took advantage of a teenager with no one else to turn to.

Graves said she appreciated Yang’s remorse, but said she thought most of his comments centered on how the actions affected him and not the victim.

“Mr Yang is every parent’s nightmare,” the judge said. “I can’t imagine what she went through.”

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