Former UI student Tang pleads guilty to lesser charges in assault case


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A former University of Iowa student pleaded guilty Monday to lesser charges in the case of a 2012 sexual assault.

Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness confirmed 22-year-old Peng Tang, a native of China, pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse, extortion, and to a separate charge of solicitation to commit tampering with a witness.

Tang’s guilty plea to sexual abuse was an Alford plea, meaning he believes a jury could find him guilty but that he wasn’t admitting to the crime. Lyness said Tang could serve up to 17 years in prison. He may serve up to 10 years for the sexual-abuse charge, up to five years for extortion, and up to two years for solicitation to commit tampering with a witness.

Calls to Tang’s attorneys Monday were not returned.

On March 29, 2012, Tang allegedly kidnapped a woman and sexually assaulted her while seeing her apartment for a possible sublet.

He allegedly locked the bedroom door behind him in her apartment and tried to tie her arms around her back and put a towel in her mouth before assaulting her. Before leaving the apartment he also allegedly took explicit photos of the victim and threatened to put them on the Internet if she told the police.

He was originally charged on March 30, 2012, with first-degree kidnapping.

Tang was also later charged with solicitation to commit an aggravated misdemeanor and tampering with a witness or juror. While being held in Johnson County Jail on a $800,000 bond, Tang allegedly wrote a letter to a friend asking that friend to find the victim of the kidnapping case and ask her to drop the charge.

Tang reportedly asked the friend to tell her if she did not drop the charge, Tang would be in jail for the rest of his life and that he could promise her anything if she did. He also allegedly asked his friend to persuade the victim to tell the police she lied and that they had consensual sex.

On April 11, Tang’s parents, Xuefan Tang, 57, and Li Qiao, 49, were charged with tampering with a witness for allegedly attempting to bribe the victim into changing her story. The charges were later dropped over “cultural differences,” according to Lyness. Peng Tang’s primary language is not English, an issue that arose numerous times in proceedings leading up to the plea.

Earlier this year, Tang was also charged with third-degree burglary and second-degree theft.

Tang’s kidnapping trial was originally scheduled to begin next week. If convicted of first-degree kidnapping, Tang could have faced life in prison.

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