MBI Agent Grabbed Breast During Sting; Judge to Decide if it was Improper

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OrlandoSentinel.com

By Bianca Prieto, Orlando Sentinel

3:45 PM EST, March 2, 2010

An MBI agent grabbed a woman's breast during an undercover operation at a massage parlor last year, and now the woman's attorney wants the prostitution charge dropped.

A hearing will be held Friday in Orange County to discuss the issue.

In September, Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation agents arrested two massage therapists at Natural Therapies at 527 N. Mills Ave., on charges of offering to commit prostitution, reports show. Undercover officers said the women offered them sexual services.

During one agent's massage, Xueyan Zhou, 39, is accused of lifting her shirt and bra to expose her breast before offering sexual services for $20, reports show. The agent acknowledged in his report that he grabbed the woman's breast when she exposed it.

Orlando attorney Corey Cohen said the agent should not have touched his client's breasts, and he called the action "outrageous and egregious." Cohen filed a motion in December asking a judge to dismiss the criminal charge because the agents 'entrapped' his clients, according to court documents.

When asked what he would like to see happen, Cohen said the agent should be reprimanded and a policy review should take place.

"If the is a policy that is place that allows this, then you can't blame the agent, but you can blame the agency," Cohen said.

MBI Director Phil Williams said his agents acted within the scope of their duties.

"The policy allows the agent to maintain his undercover role," Williams said, adding that the agent did not "grab" the woman's breast, but touched it after she motioned for him to do so.

The agent knew through his training and prior experience that the woman exposed herself in an effort to determine if the customer was a law enforcement officer, Williams said.

Policies, such as the one that allows the agent to touch the suspect, will be reviewed soon, Williams said.

No criminal charges have been filed against the agent.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no complaints had been filed against the agent. He is not facing any discipline, Williams said.

The Orlando Sentinel is not naming the two agents because they are undercover officers.

Cohen also represents Li Cheng, 36, another massage therapist arrested during the undercover operation is accused of touching a different agent's genitals and offering him sexual services for $30. She was charged with offering prostitution. A plea will likely be entered in her case, Cohen said.

The women both were born in China and speak little English. Neither has a criminal history, reports indicate.

MBI set up its undercover operation at the massage parlor on Sept. 30.

Williams said that he hopes clarity will come from Friday's hearing.

"We will await the hearing," he said. "Many folks take the media's report of the incident and form a conclusion. . . . Friday's hearing will be an education to all of those who don't have the benefit of hearing the case in its entirety."

Bianca Prieto can be reached at bprieto@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5620.

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