http://www.salemnews.com/punews/local_story_198223731.html?keyword=secondarystoryDad in abuse, threats case gets probation
By Julie Manganis
SALEM — A restaurant owner arrested last week on charges he beat two of his children with sticks walked out of Salem District Court yesterday after a judge, over the objection of prosecutors, agreed to continue the case without a finding for two years.
The decision by Judge Richard Mori means that if Xiang Xu, 33, of 30 Leach St., Salem, stays out of further trouble and completes a parenting class and batterer's intervention program, the seven counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a charge of threatening to kill his ex-wife will be dismissed.
Xu, who runs Fresh Taste of Asia, a restaurant down the street from the courthouse, had spent a week in custody, held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing that was supposed to take place yesterday.
But Xu's attorney, Robert Jubinville, told Mori he wanted to resolve the case yesterday with an admission, saying that Xu's business and the livelihoods of 10 employees, as well as Xu's children, were in jeopardy.
Jubinville said Xu was simply disciplining his children using a method that is widespread in his native China and that was once common in the United States.
Prosecutor Caleb Weiner argued that Xu's actions — which, his children said, had happened repeatedly and involved not only sticks but broom handles and hangers — were far more serious. "They state it happened continuously," said Weiner, who urged Mori to impose jail time in the case.
Weiner said the bruises left on the legs and arms of Xu's 9-year-old son were "inconsistent" with discipline and were actually abuse. Xu's 10-year-old daughter was also struck with a stick.
"The suggestion that this is just a cultural thing is belied by the facts before you, and to suggest that this is an isolated incident strains reason," Weiner said.
Department of Children and Families investigators contacted Salem police a week ago to report the children were being abused. Xu, their father, is divorced from their mother, but they all live in the same house, Xu upstairs and his ex-wife and kids downstairs.
Weiner said the children told investigators that Xu struck them because they were being noisy.
Then, as Xu was being booked, he told his ex-wife in a phone call from the police station that he would find her at her parents' home and kill her with a knife.
"I think it's remarkable and worth noting that the first thing this defendant does is to make a threat, a very specific threat," while he is still at the police station, Weiner told the judge.
Jubinville argued that while he disagrees with the use of corporal punishment, he said his client was simply punishing his son for throwing a fork in the restaurant a day earlier. Xu struck the girl, Jubinville said, for disobeying him.
"Somehow the DCF and the police end up with this story," said Jubinville, who acknowledged that his client was angry when he made the call from the police station to his ex-wife, though he denies mentioning a knife.
Jubinville also pointed out that the ex-wife did not obtain a restraining order against Xu, and, he said, does not want Xu to go to jail.
The prosecutor urged Mori to find Xu guilty and impose an 18-month jail sentence on Xu, and asked that he serve at least three months of that, with the balance suspended for three years.
Mori did not go along with that request, though he warned Xu that hitting children with sticks is not acceptable discipline in the United States.
"You're in the United States now, and our culture is different than some of the Asian cultures, including China," Mori said. "You have to abide by the United States culture."
Mori also agreed to a request by Jubinville to continue without finding an earlier domestic assault and battery charge from December, stemming from an incident in which Xu shoved his ex-wife into a chair.
In addition to the programs Xu must attend, he was ordered not to abuse any of his children or his ex-wife during his probation.Technorati Tags: children,wife,sticks,probation,Judge,kids,threats,Julie,Manganis,Staff,writer,SALEM,restaurant,owner,District,Court,objection,decision,Richard,Mori,Xiang,Leach,intervention,battery,weapon,Fresh,Taste,Asia,street,courthouse,custody,bail,attorney,Robert,Jubinville,admission,employees,jeopardy,method,China,Prosecutor,Caleb,Weiner,actions,daughter,suggestion,incident,Department,father,worth,threat,punishment,client,girl,culture,Asian,December,addition,objections,hangers,cultures,prosecutors,week,investigators,three