Note | This post has been edited since it was first published. See updates below.
The student member of the University of California’s Board of Regents was arrested in November on charges of sexual battery, UC Irvine student newspaper New University has reported, but no charges have been filed in the case.
Student Regent Jesse Cheng, a fifth-year undergraduate at Irvine, is a little more than halfway through his one-year term as a voting member of the Board of Regents.
According to New University, a UCLA grad student contends that Cheng “attempted to rape her in his off-campus apartment on Oct. 3 after she said no to his advances.” She reported the incident to police in late October, and Cheng was arrested on November 4.
The Irvine Police Department contends that they passed the case on to the county District Attorney in November, and grad student now says that she was told by an Irvine detective in December that the department had decided not to press charges. The DA’s office, however, told New University that they have no file on the incident. Neither New University nor Matt Coker, who blogged about the case for the OC Weekly today, has yet been able to resolve this discrepancy.
Wednesday Update | In an interview with local newspaper the Bay Citizen, Cheng today asserted his innocence and said that he does not intend to step down as student regent. The Bay Citizen also reported that a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office told them yesterday that there was an “insufficiency of evidence” to charge Cheng with any crime.
In their story yesterday, the New University said that they had obtained copies of email messages from last October in which Cheng “repeatedly apologized to Laya for sexually assaulting her.” In his interview with the Bay Citizen, Cheng described those as “the supposed e-mails,” and said that there was “no evidence” behind the complaint.
Thursday Update | The OC Weekly has posted new information on the case, including a fuller explanation from the District Attorney’s office as to why they declined to pursue charges, and a more detailed account of the situation from Cheng himself. The updated piece also makes clear that Cheng was arrested for misdemeanor, rather than felony, sexual battery.
Also, I missed this yesterday, but the Bay Citizen’s original piece on the story reported that UCI has appointed a senior administrator to conduct a review of the university’s handling of the case “to ensure that appropriate polices were being followed for a fair investigation” given Cheng’s position as student regent. (For their part, the District Attorney’s office told the OC Weekly that they were unaware that Cheng was UC’s student regent when they made the decision not to pursue the case.)