Restaurant owner charged with human trafficking pleads guilty to lesser charges

Restaurant owner charged with human trafficking pleads guilty to lesser charges

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A former Jonesboro restaurant owner arrested in 2018 on suspicion of rape and human trafficking pleaded guilty this week to two misdemeanors.

Police arrested 45-year-old Hexin Chen on Jan. 3, 2018, on a bench warrant alleging he raped an employee at his business, Kirin Restaurant at 2700 S. Caraway.

In August of that year, the prosecutor’s office added two counts of trafficking of persons.

Since then, his trial dates have been postponed and the case continued until this past Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Chen, with the assistance of a Mandarin interpreter, appeared before a judge via Zoom and pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree battery and one count of theft of services, both misdemeanors.

According to court documents, the three counts of human trafficking were nolle prossed, meaning prosecutors could not prove the allegations based on the evidence.

The judge sentenced Chen, who now lives in Mississippi, to 364 days suspended imposition of sentence.

Chen was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $190 in court costs and fees. The judge also ordered him to pay $3,000 to the alleged victim.

Copyright 2021 KAIT. All rights reserved.