Appeals Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling In Rape Case
March 18, 2019
The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision that dismissed charges against a driving instructor accused of raping one of his students in Livingston County.
Rape charges were dismissed in 2017 against 63-year-old Ningan Hu by Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty after the prosecution was unable to arrange for one of two alleged victims to testify. Hu is a Chinese national who lived and worked as a driving instructor in Windsor, Ontario. He was charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct in relation to the alleged sexual assaults of two women during separate incidents. The two women, also Chinese nationals, were foreign exchange students who attended college in Windsor. Each woman separately hired Hu to provide driving instructions so that they could acquire driver’s licenses. The victims are not related and were not acquaintances. The first alleged incident to be reported occurred in May of 2016 at a home in Brighton. The other alleged incident was in November of 2014 but the victim never reported anything until she heard news of Hu’s arrest through social media. In both incidents, the victims were said to be plied with alcohol and then sexually assaulted.
Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt earlier said his office was attempting to obtain a special visa for her to return to the U.S. and testify when Judge Hatty refused to grant an adjournment and dismissed the case. Hatty had also previously tossed out Hu’s statement to police after he ruled that because Hu speaks Mandarin Chinese, he did not properly understand his rights after he was arrested. An appeal of the case’s dismissal was then filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, challenging various pretrial rulings as well as the trial court’s denial of its motion for an adjournment.
Oral arguments were heard earlier this month and an opinion was released Friday affirming the trial court dismissal. The opinion stated under the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the prosecution motion to adjourn the trial. Vailliencourt told WHMI his office will be reviewing the opinion to determine their next steps. (JM)