Correction: The original version of this article contained an error. Jesse Cheng’s former partner was contacted by the New University for an interview and agreed to do one more than one month later.
A UCLA graduate student reported to police in October that Jesse Cheng, the current UC student regent, sexually assaulted her, but the Orange County District Attorney’s office rejected the case.
There was insufficient evidence to mount an investigation, according to Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff and public affairs counsel for the district attorney’s office.
Cheng was arrested on Nov. 4 on suspicion of misdemeanor sexual battery but was released a few hours later.
According to Schroeder, Cheng and the graduate student had been in a long-term relationship prior to the alleged sexual battery.
“If there is any new evidence that comes up, we will look at that case again,” Schroeder said.
Cheng said he is innocent of all charges against him.
He said the UC Irvine Office of Student Conduct is conducting a student investigation into the allegations, but he has not heard back from the office yet and does not know when he will.
The office declined to comment, citing that all student investigations are private under the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act.
UC Irvine’s student newspaper, the New University, asked Cheng’s former partner for an interview for details about the alleged incident. More than a month later, she agreed to an interview, which was held about two weeks before the publication’s original story on Feb. 15. Other media outlets have since printed reports, as well.
The Orange County District Attorney dropped Cheng’s case in December, according to the New University.
Cheng said he is not concerned the allegations will harm his reputation, but he hopes a resolution will be reached soon.
“I assume it wouldn’t be printed if I wasn’t a student regent,” Cheng said. “I realize that a lot of the media coverage is giving more attention because I am a public figure.”
The former partner provided New University and the district attorney’s office with e-mails that allegedly incriminated Cheng.
According to Cheng, his former partner had called him incessantly demanding that he e-mail her to apologize for allegedly sexually assaulting her.
Cheng said she had explicitly stated what kind of language she wanted in the e-mails. He added, however, that the e-mails were not truthful.
“I fabricated the content of the e-mails just to get her off my back, because 50 calls a day were really breaking me in half,” he said.
Cheng said he ended the relationship with his partner in September. After this, they had three more physically intimate encounters. It was after the second encounter that his former partner accused him of sexual assault, he said.
All contact between the two was consensual, Cheng said in a statement released on Monday.
Though Cheng said he is being careful not to speculate why his former partner is accusing him, he said he wants to recognize that violence against women is a serious issue.
“I am innocent in this case. I have been a champion for gender equality issues and gender violence issues my entire college career, and I would never do anything to compromise those values,” he said. “Neither do I want to say that privileges of men don’t exist anymore or that violence against women doesn’t happen, it just didn’t happen in this case.”
Currently, there is no indication that the accusations will have any impact on Cheng’s position as the UC student regent, said UC Office of the President spokesman Ricardo Vazquez in an e-mail statement.
Nevertheless, Vazquez said the matter is being reviewed by the UC’s senior vice president and chief compliance and audit officer, and the UC Board of Regents is awaiting the outcome of the UC Irvine investigation before commenting further.
Cheng’s former partner could not be reached for comment.