Sex Assault Suspect, Like Parents, Accused of Witness Tampering
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - A 21-year-old Iowa City man accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was showing her apartment for rent in March faces new charges after police say he sent a letter to a friend from jail asking that person find the alleged victim and get her to change her story.
Peng Tang, who already faces a first-degree kidnapping charge that carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted, now faces charges of tampering with a witness and solicitation to commit an aggravated misdemeanor in connection with the alleged jailhouse letter.
His parents also are being held in the Johnson County Jail after police say they flew into town and also tried to get the woman to change her story, according to criminal complaints.
Tang's father, Xuefan Tang, 57, and his mother, Li Qiao, 49, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of tampering with a witness. The additional tampering and solicitation charges were tacked onto Pent Tang's case Saturday after police said they discovered the letter.
According to a criminal complaint, Tang sent the letter from jail on April 4 – just a few days after he initially was arrested March 30 – asking for a friend's help getting the woman to change her story and drop the charges.
"The defendant asked his friend to tell the victim that if she doesn't cooperate, he (the defendant) will be in jail for the rest of his life, and if she does drop the charge, he (the defendant) can promise her anything," according to the criminal complaint.
Tang specifically asked his friend to tell the woman to say that she lied to the police, according to the report. He asked his friend to tell the woman to report that the sex was consensual, police reported.
Tang's parents, who arrived a day after he sent the letter on April 5, according to police, similarly asked someone close to their son to find the woman and "persuade" her to change her story. They offered to pay the woman, according to criminal complaints.
Tang is being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of a $750,000 cash-only bond, and his parents are each being held there on a $100,000 cash-only bond.
According to court records, the woman who said she was sexually assaulted put an advertisement to sublet her apartment on a website used by Chinese nationals, and a man who she never met came over March 29 to view the unit.
When they entered her bedroom, Tang is accused of grabbing the woman's hands, trying to put them behind her back and shoving a towel in her mouth, according to a criminal complaint. He then is accused of forcing her to have sex with him and perform other sexual acts, police reported.
Tang, according to police, is accused of taking pictures during the sexual acts and warning the woman, "You have better follow my requirements because I have a knife." He allegedly forced the woman to pose for nude photos and threatened to post them on line if she went to police, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics the next day and contacted police. She worked with them to persuade Tang, through text messages, to come back to her apartment, police reported.
Officers arrested Tang at that time, and he admitted to police that he had sex with the woman and had been carrying handcuffs and a knife, according to police.
Tang on Friday pleaded not guilty Friday to the kidnapping charge. A jury trial was set in the case for June 5.