The trial for three Chinese people accused of human trafficking is scheduled to begin Tuesday before a visiting judge and prosecutors say it may take two weeks.
Expected to testify are the women who worked in three central Ohio massage parlors, including one in Delaware County, as well as clients.
Qing Xu, 57, and her husband, Xiaoshuang Chao, 57, both of Columbus, and Qing Xu’s sister, Estella Xu, 55, of Pomona, California, are scheduled to appear in Delaware County Common Pleas Court for a jury trial to face charges relating to human trafficking.
Each member of the trio is charged with:
• Behaving in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, with a specification that the defendant knowingly committed crimes that furthered human trafficking.
• Eight counts of promoting prostitution, a fourth-degree felony, also with an added specification for human trafficking.
• Three counts of practicing medicine or surgery without a license, a fifth-degree felony.
• Three counts of money laundering, a third-degree felony.
Prosecutors say the trio owned and operated three massage parlors across central Ohio and illicit services were being offered to customers. Investigators said the women working at the parlors were essentially treated like slaves.
The trio will be defended by attorneys Scott Culbert, Daniel Sabol and Chris Soon.
The state will be represented by Delaware County assistant prosecuting attorney Doug Dumolt and Jennifer Rausch, an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. Rausch is reportedly prosecuting the case because two of the massage parlors were in Franklin County.
Presiding over the case will be Judge Joseph Timothy Campbell, a retired Greene County common pleas judge. The trial will be held in Judge Everett Krueger’s courtroom.
Prosecutors estimate the trial will take two weeks because none of the defendants speak English and will require a translator fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
The trio all entered “not guilty” pleas at their arraignments earlier this year and their bonds were set at $500,000. Qing Xu and Estella Xu posted bond soon after their arraignments in February. Xiaoshuang Chao was still in the Delaware County Jail Sunday.
Their passports were taken to prevent them from fleeing the country.
Prosecutors said a number of former massage parlor workers and customers are expected to testify in the case.
Qing Xu and Xiaoshuang Chao were arrested Jan. 14 during a traffic stop in Columbus while the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, including officers from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Powell Police Department, executed search warrants at four locations in central Ohio. These locations included Amsun Massage in Powell, as well as two massage parlors in Franklin County and a private residence.
Estella Xu was in California at the time of the raid but flew back to Ohio and turned herself in on Jan. 19. The trio was indicted on the felony charges on Jan. 23.
After the raid, police said seven women were rescued from the central Ohio locations and were in the care of the local Salvation Army. Officials from the Salvation Army reported earlier this year that the women did not speak English but were learning English and in good health.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.