Professor sentenced to 3-1/2 years in trial on swingers club on China

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Professor given 3-1/2 years in China swingers case

BEIJING — A college professor accused of organizing a swingers club and holding private orgies in China was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, officials said, in a case that touched off national debate about sexual freedom.

Ma Yaohai, 53, was convicted and sentenced on charges of group licentiousness for participating in group sex parties, said an official from the Qinhuai District Court in southeastern Nanjing. The official, who declined to give his name, refused to answer further questions.

Ma, along with 21 other people, was arrested and charged last year — the first time anyone has been charged under a 1997 law in a case that has snagged huge public interest with its titillating details. It also generated debate about sexual freedom in a nation trying to reshape its own modern morality.

Ma’s attorney Yao Yong’an said his client plans to appeal the verdict.

“It’s definitely not a fair case. It’s not based on the law. … We can understand the reason behind it, but we can’t accept it,” he said.

Prosecutors had accused Ma, a computer science professor at Nanjing University of Technology, of organizing a swingers club, where members met online and gathered in private homes or hotels for group sex parties.

But Ma had maintained his innocence, arguing that his activities involved consenting adults meeting in nonpublic places.

His defiance seemed to strike a chord in an era of relative sexual freedom, where extramarital affairs and prostitution are common — drawing support from those who believe the Chinese government should stay out of the bedroom.

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