Two employees of a Kennewick massage parlor pleaded innocent Monday to allegations that they weren't properly licensed and they sexually assaulted two customers.
The owner of China Sun Foot Massage also was in Benton County Superior Court on three counts of practicing without a license.
Li Shu Cui, 41, pleaded innocent and had his trial set for Oct. 8. The first charge against him is a gross misdemeanor, but the other two charges are felonies.
State law says practicing without a license becomes a felony offense after the first violation.
Cui and two of his employees, Xiu Qin Sun and Lu Yan Zhen, appeared Monday before Judge Bruce Spanner. An interpreter who speaks mandarin Chinese was called to explain the proceedings to the three defendants.
Sun, 43, is charged with two counts of practicing without a license -- the second count is a felony -- and two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.
Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire alleged in court documents that the assaults were committed by Sun for her sexual gratification.
Sun is accused of sexually assaulting a female customer on July 27 by having her disrobe, leaving her completely exposed at least once and touching her inappropriately several times.
Sun, who also is known as Susan, also allegedly sexually assaulted a male retired Pasco police officer who was undercover on Aug. 6, documents said.
Zhen, 43, is charged with the same offenses as Sun, but on different days. She s accused of sexually assaulting the undercover retired officer on Aug. 2 and an undercover female Kennewick officer on July 30.
Authorities initially had Zhen's name as Lo Yan Zhen, but on Monday she said that her name should be Lu Yan Zhen. She also reportedly was known by customers as Linda.
Sun and Zhen also face Oct. 8 trials and are being held in the Benton County jail on $10,000 bail.
Whitmire asked for $20,000 bail on each because there are no known ties to the community and believed they could be a flight risk.
Judge Spanner said $10,000 bail was sufficient. Zhen also is locked up on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.
Defense attorney Sylvia Cornish was appointed to represent Zhen. Sam Swanberg was appointed to Sun's case.
Cui initially told Spanner that he would try to hire his own attorney but asked for an attorney to be appointed after he realized he would not be able to get out of jail.
He also is in jail on an immigration hold, said Eric Hsu, the indigent defense coordinator for the Benton and Franklin Counties of Public Defense.
Hsu explained that deportation proceedings would begin immediately if Cui posted bail, which he asked to also be set at $10,000.
Whitmire requested $40,000 bail, saying she believes Cui is in a much different position than the co-defendants who were working at his direction.
"The state's position is this defendant has the highest degree of culpability in this matter," she said.
Spanner agreed with Whitmire but said Cui's attorney could address bail again at another hearing. Kevin Holt was appointed to represent Cui.
Cui owned and operated China Sun Foot Massage, 7903 W. Grandridge Blvd., and a second location, China Sun Massage, 3321 W. Kennewick Ave.
Both locations were shut down last week after Kennewick police, with help from U.S. marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, raided the businesses.
Detectives also searched the Deschutes Avenue apartment where Cui and the five women he employed lived, authorities said.
Two other employees, Yamei Wang, 43, and Jian Mei Liu, 41, also were arrested suspicion of practicing without a license, a gross misdemeanor. They also remain in jail and face charges in Benton County District Court.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org