Monday, February 21, 2011

OC Weekly 3rd Update: Student Regent Jesse Cheng's official statement

Student Regent Jesse Cheng's official statement regarding his sexual-battery arrest
I'm writing this statement to respond to a number of accusations made about me in various media outlets in the last week. Initially, I did not feel it was appropriate to comment because I was trying to defend the interests and privacy of all the students involved, including my former partner. I now feel like I have no choice but to explain fully what occurred.

I am innocent of all accusations made. These accusations have been extremely painful for me, especially because I have tried to acknowledge the privileges that I have as a man and support gender equality issues throughout my college career. It is work that is essential to my identity, and I would never engage in behavior that would compromise those values.

My former partner and I were in a committed relationship for almost a year. Near the end of the year, it was clear that the relationship was not working out, and I initiated the break up.

Afterward, we agreed to remain friends. We saw each other three times after the relationship ended, all three times we engaged in varying levels of consensual physical contact, none of which was forced or coerced, none of which was intercourse. The first time she invited me to be her date to a UCLA graduate school event. The next week, on Oct. 3, the night that would become the source of the accusations against me, I invited her over for dinner at my apartment in Irvine. That night, although we we engaged in kissing, all contact was consensual and we did not have sex. Afterward, we ate dinner at my apartment and watched a movie.

A week after this visit, she called me, and accused me of sexually assaulting her the week before. The phone conversation lasted for hours. My reaction during the phone call was that her description of events did not happen. In the following weeks, I would get as many as 50 calls a day from her. The amount of phone calls became extremely stressful and disruptive.

During the time of these phone calls, she requested I meet her personally at her apartment. I visited her apartment two weeks after Oct. 3. During that visit, she initiated and engaged physical intimacy. It was the third time we met after the break up, and a few weeks after the night she had claimed I behaved inappropriately.

The phone calls continued, and began to have a serious toll on my well-being. She demanded that I write e-mail apologies to her, and specifying exact language that she wanted to see in those e-mails. Exhausted, I sent out those e-mails. What I said in those e-mails are not true and did not reflect my behavior, but I thought that by adopting her language and meeting the standards she set out, we could both move forward. I regret lying to her in those e-mails, and it was a mistake to capitulate just so she would stop calling me incessantly.

On Nov. 4, the police arrested me on campus and took me back to the police department for questioning. We spoke about the relationship, that particular night and the entire situation. Three hours later, the police released me, and the DA declined to press any charges.

I know this last week has been extremely difficult for the campus community. It has been difficult for me and my friends. I would ask people to please thoughtfully consider both sides of a story and the entire context of a relationship before jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. I do not know why my former partner has chosen to make these accusations or make them at this time. I loved her very much, and I really wish for her the best in the future.
Full article here:

Friday, February 18, 2011

OC Weekly 2nd Update

Excerpts from OC Weekly:

The Mariposa Center for Change is also standing up for "Laya," the female UCLA graduate student who accused her ex-boyfriend Cheng of sexual battery last year. The center's statement, which includes a new quote from the alleged victim, follows.

The Mariposa Center for Change stands with Laya as she bravely speaks out against her attacker, Jesse Cheng, UC student regent, who was charged on Nov. 4, 2010, for sexual battery. Cheng, who was recently lauded as a "leader of student activists" by the Huffington Post, admitted to sexually assaulting Laya in his off-campus apartment on Oct. 3. The Mariposa Center for Change condemns Cheng's actions and the actions of the Orange County district attorney's office who have not taken any action at this time. In fact, the DA's office reports they have no records of any case under Cheng's name (according to the New UniversityNewspaper).

About 1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of rapes go unreported, and 90 percent of those who are raped know the perpetrator. In most of these cases, even when the university prosecutes, rapists are able to appeal and get reduced penalties. For example, in some universities, expulsion may be appealed. In some cases of expulsion, students might even be able to re-enroll. More disturbing is that universities go out of their way to suppress reports of sexual assaults and rape.

Each year, about 4,000 U.S. college students report to their university that they have been sexually assaulted. The Center for Public Integrity and NPR's investigative unit teamed up to examine how universities respond to reports of sexual assault on campus. They found that months, sometimes years pass before universities respond, even though universities are responsible, according to the Jeanne Clery Act, to investigate and punish these crimes. A similar Dateline NBCinvestigation found that women were discouraged by university officials to move forward with their claims.

The fact that Cheng is a UC student regent raises even greater doubts as to whether the UC system will punish one of their own. Executive Director of the Mariposa Center for Change, Ivy Quichosaid, "We are concerned that there has been no response from the DA's office or no decision from the University of California, Irvine's Student Conduct Office. These actions point to a lack of urgency to address the attack of a student, at best, and a blatant cover-up to protect a UC student regent, at worst."

Despite Laya's fear and anxiety to talk about what happened to her, she is unwavering in her commitment to the truth. "I knew I had to say something," she said to the Mariposa Center for Change. "What if he did this to someone else? He has to be held accountable." Laya continues to tell her story even as she faces intimidation and victim blaming. The Mariposa Center for Change demands Justice for Laya and invites others to attend a community meeting on Feb. 17, 2011, at the UCI Campus Cross Cultural Center at 6 p.m. Those interested should contact

The Mariposa Center for Change is a nonprofit center dedicated to investigating, codifying and implementing the theory and practice of an activist feminism for immigrant-based, transnational communities. We work with women and children and aim to improve social, political and economic conditions and end inequality through an empowered sisterhood, transformative programming, grassroots organizing and strategic alliances.

  • Cheng was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery of Nov. 4, 2010. The case was submitted by the Irvine Police Department to the OCDA as a misdemeanor sexual battery. The OCDA declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence to win a conviction on the misdemeanor. Thus, Cheng was never charged with the crime.

  • The OCDA does have records of the case.

  • The UCI Office of Student Conduct says its investigation is ongoing, and an administrator with the Oakland-based UC has been appointed to ensure the campus probe is fair.

  • According to the statement, the community meeting was on campus last night. TheWeekly was not e-mailed the statement until just after 12:30 this morning.

Meanwhile, there are rumors swirling around campus that Cheng tried to kill the New University story that exposed his arrest and threatened to sue the student newspaper. Managing editor Traci Garling Lee, who wrote the piece with editor David Gao, would not confirm or deny that for the Weekly because all conversations they had with Cheng before publication were off the record.

Full article here:

Occupy UCI- Jesse Cheng arrested for attempted rape

We have previously been appreciative of Cheng’s support for students during the past two years of budget cuts and fee hikes, but we feel that Cheng no longer represents the interests of UC students and should immediately step down.  We understand the complexity of rape accusations, but Cheng’s email is an admission of guilt, and even if he isn’t criminally prosecuted, he must do everything in his ability to make himself accountable to Laya and to the UCI community.

Additionally, it must be stated that the lack of interest in this case by the OCDA demonstrates the absolute hypocrisy of the criminal “justice” system and the UCI administration.  We stand firmly in opposition to the prison system and Prison-Industrial Complex, but we must question why Cheng, who caused and attempted to cause physical and emotional harm to another person, is not being charged, while 30 students and community supporters are facing criminal charges–possibly resulting in prison time–for participating in protests in which no one was injured and no harm was intended.

Full article here:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OC Weekly 1st Update: Jesse Cheng's response

Excepts from the OC Weekly:

UPDATE, FEB. 16, 4:43 P.M.: Before we get to the meat of this post--an interview with UC Student Regent Jesse Chengabout his arrest for allegedly trying to rape a UCLA graduate student in his apartment near UC Irvine and the reaction to that news--we pause for a brief word from the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA).

Photo by Daniel A. Anderson/University Communications
Jesse Cheng says he has no plans to step down as the UC student regent before his term ends.
Cheng was on the UCI campus when I called him today. After he ducked into a quiet corner so we could speak, I asked for his comment on Tuesday's New University article with a woman's explosive allegations against the UC student regent and Asian American studies major.

"Well, first of all, I'm innocent," Cheng wanted to make clear. "It was a messy relationship. It was a really bad breakup."

Of the attempted rape allegation, Cheng said, "Nothing of the sort" happened.

But the New U reported e-mails exist between Cheng and his alleged victim, identified as "Laya," in which he is said to have apologized for attacking his former girlfriend of a year.

"The police have all that," Cheng explained, "and they said there was no evidence, nothing to push forward a case. There were no charges because nothing happened."

For now, Cheng has no plans to step down as student regent before his term ends in July.

"That would be an admission of guilt," he said. "People have mentioned that students need to trust their student regent. If it's true, if it's not true, students still have to believe the person serving them. It's a fair question to ask."

For now, the University of California is trusting Cheng, at least until the results from a UCI Office of Student Conduct investigation are in. "This is a student matter that is being handled by the campus in accord with standard processes covered by student privacy laws," Steve Montiel, UC President Mark Yudof's president, told the Bay Area's Bay Citizen. "While there is no indication that any of this has anything to do with Jesse Cheng's position as a regent, this matter also is being reviewed by UC's senior vice president-chief compliance and audit officer." That officer's job will be to ensure the campus investigation was fair, not whether the allegations against Cheng were true, Montiel added.

When I mentioned to Cheng that nothing I read about him before his arrest had painted him as the type of "player" one could see caught in middle of attempted rape allegations, Cheng broke out in a laugh before responding, "No. Not at all. Not even close."

He quickly shifted to a more serious tone. "I'm a man, and I recognize in this society, men have a lot of privileges. Violence against women is a serious issue. Throughout my college career, I have stood up against violence against women."

Given his stands, did it ever occur to him he would find himself in his current situation?

"No. It's mind-blowing," he said. "I mean, really, I was suddenly taken by surprise. I'm a very straight-edge kind of dude. I don't drink, I don't smoke. I have constantly been shocked by this. . . . I also want to say that while I'm innocent, I don't want this case to be reflective of other cases of violence against women, which does exist."

Because it exists, he understood why he was arrested before his accuser's allegations could be fully investigated.

"She came to police," he said. "They did their due diligence. They also released me without charges. . . . I'm not holding anything against anyone. I totally understand."

Since the allegations got out Tuesday, Cheng said the reaction to him on the UCI campus has been "a heavily mixed bag."

"There's been a good amount of support," he said. "I'm grateful for that. A lot has come from people I've worked with in the past. . . . But a good many people are confused by it. I don't hold that against them--how could I?"

When asked if anyone whispers to another as he walks by, Cheng replied, "There have been a number of people looking at me. It's very scary at times. Actually, I'm kind of scared shitless."

To the claims of Laya and some who have commented to the online coverage that Cheng wields power that has silenced his enemies and kept the incident out of the media for months, Cheng asked, "Do you want to be super-real?"

Go for it, Mr. Student Regent.

"Trust me, this post doesn't have power to do anything," he said. "I don't know why they waited so long [to release news of his arrest], but I have no power to stop it. I can't even stop a fee increase from happening. . . . Politically, no one's protecting my ass. . . . Last year, people were graffiting on my door over the fee increase. I couldn't even stop that. . . . I have no influence over that case; I do not even have enough power to defend my innocence."

Cheng said he has had no contact with Laya since last October. While he claims he had no direct knowledge she would go public with the allegations at this time, he did admit to having a nagging sense something bad "was coming down the line."

"When the New U contacted me, I was scared shitless to say anything. I knew a student conduct investigation was going on, so I didn't think I could comment," he said. "Plus, I might say something stupid."

Once the news did hit, Cheng had no idea things would get this "crazy."

He said he does not blame the newspaper for reporting the allegations; he even credited the student journalists for "doing their due diligence." But to fill in some of the blanks from the news coverage, he plans to issue a full statement--once he has time to wrap his head around it all.

"I wish people heard the whole story before jumping to judgment," Cheng said. "It was a bad breakup. This is not even the result of a miscommunication. Nothing of the sort happened."

He did not want to speculate why Laya chose to go public, saying, "I don't want to villainize her. I don't think that would be fair to her."

He said he has no current plans to take legal action against the messengers.

"You know, a lot of people have talked about it," Cheng said. "I'm going to be real: It's a campus newspaper. I support the work they do. I might not like it, I might think this was a harsh article, but I support the work they do."

He did add one caveat. "If they go ahead and do something else . . . maybe."

Not that he has time to think about that right now.

"I'm literally just tying to pass Chinese," he said.

Full article here:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OC Weekly ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 15, 4:48 P.M

OC Weekly:
Jesse Cheng, the 10-school University of California Governing Board's student regent and a fifth-year Asian American studies major at UC Irvine, was arrested last November for sexual battery.

The Orange County district attorney's office apparently declined to file charges.

The alleged victim--a female graduate student from UCLA--has now brought the case to the attention of UC Irvine's student newspaper, which posted her explosive allegations today.

The New University report by managing editor Traci Garling Lee and editor David Gao states Irvine Police Department's adult arrest roster for the month of November shows Cheng was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery Nov. 4, 2010, at his off-campus apartment at 4771 Campus Dr., Irvine. His alleged victim, identified as "Laya," first reported the incident to cops on Oct. 26, claiming Cheng tried to rape her in his apartment on Oct. 3.

Photo by Daniel A. Anderson/University Communications
UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng reportedly apologized repeatedly to the female victim of an alleged sexual assault in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
Reached via phone today by the Weekly, Irvine Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Julia Engen confirmed the dates for the alleged assault, initial report to police and sexual-battery arrest. Engen did not have the exact date the case was submitted to the OCDA for charges, but she surmised it was the same week as the arrest.

The New U reports that Laya was told by Irvine Police Detective Tom Goodbrand that the OCDA decided to not press charges against Cheng. That's followed by an unidentified OCDA spokesperson saying the agency has "no record of the case under Cheng's name at the time."

Susan Schroeder, the OCDA chief of staff, today gave a possible explanation to theWeekly: The employee keyed into a computer search the wrong spelling of the suspect's name, and without a date of birth, the Cheng file could not be found at the time the New Ucalled.

Engen says she told Lee to contact the OCDA again to find out what happened to the case. It was Schroeder's understanding the reporter did not do that. But Lee tells the Weekly she spoke with the OCDA's office several times throughout last week and gave several spellings of Cheng's name, including his birth date, and nothing came up.

Lee concedes she was encouraged to call the OCDA back if she could get any more arrest information out of Irvine Police but that no additional details were released to her.

"I can assure you we did our due diligence," Lee tells me.

Full Article here:

New University article

On February 15, 2011 the New University published the following article.

On Nov. 4, 2010, UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng was arrested for sexual battery, according to the Irvine Police Department’s adult arrest roster for the month of November. The victim, a UCLA graduate student who has asked to be named as “Laya,” reported the attack to the police a few weeks after the incident.

According to the arrest roster, Cheng was arrested on the afternoon of Nov. 4 at 4771 Campus Dr. for sexual battery. IPD’s daily log for the arrest confirms that the incident was reported on Oct. 26 and Cheng was arrested and booked the following week in Irvine. However, he is not currently facing criminal charges.

Cheng, a fifth-year Asian American studies major at UC Irvine, is the current UC Student Regent and represents over 200,000 students at the 10 UC campuses throughout California. Here at UCI, Cheng has been actively involved in ASUCI, the Student Fee Advisory Committee and the Asian Pacific Student Association.

Cheng declined to comment on the record.

According to Laya’s accounts, Cheng attempted to rape her in his off-campus apartment on Oct. 3 after she said no to his advances. Laya reported the incident to IPD at the end of October and then to UCI’s Office of Student Conduct in November after Cheng’s arrest.

Dr. Mandy Mount, director of UCI Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE), stated that most cases of sexual violence are rarely reported to authorities, but acknowledged that UCI was “proactive and responsive in these cases.”

In a series of emails over the course of October, which were disclosed to the New University and also given to the police and to Student Conduct, Cheng repeatedly apologized to Laya for sexually assaulting her.
In December, Laya was told by Detective Tom Goodbrand of IPD that the Orange County District Attorney’s office had decided not to press charges.

IPD confirms that the case was sent to the DA’s office in November but, according to Spokesperson Farrah Emami at the DA’s office, they have no record of the case under Cheng’s name at the time.

Full article here:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jesse Cheng Police Report

For the original PDF copy of Jesse Cheng's police report, which was made public online for a while, please email

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Justice for Laya

This blog will serve as a central location for all information regarding allegations against Jesse Cheng. We hope to document and archive the progress of the on-going investigation.