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Cecilia Chang, Ex-St. John's Dean, Made Students Act as Dates, Au Pairs, Say Reports

Cecilia Chang (WCBS)
Cecilia Chang, Former St. John's University Dean, Allegedly Had Students Act as Dates
Cecilia Chang (WCBS)

NEW YORK (CBS) Cecilia Chang, the former St. John's University dean accused of forcing students to do random chores by threatening to revoke their scholarship money, allegedly ordered at least one scholarship student to escort "an older male to a function unrelated to St. John's," according to federal court documents.

The student, whose name has not been released, told authorities that she faced losing her scholarship money if she refused to accompany Chang's friend to the function, according to the New York Post.

Sources close to the case claimed Friday that no accusations were filed indicating that the man and the student were involved in any sexual acts, reports the paper.

Chang, who was the former dean of the Institute of Asian Studies at the Queens college, was jailed last week on forced labor charges stemming from allegations that she told several students they would lose their scholarships unless they cooked, cleaned and did her laundry. She was later released after friends made personal pledges of repayment to secure her $1.5 million bond.

The federal case is based in part on FBI interviews with unnamed students, most from overseas, who were awarded scholarships of $5,000 or more per semester by Chang. The scholarships officially required the students to work part time for the Asian Studies program, but the students interviewed claim that they ended up as Chang's personal assistants.

According to the Post, investigators are now trying to determine whether another scholarship student was forced to work as a nanny and housekeeper for Chang's longtime business partner, Danny Lau.

Lau is the vice president of Global Development Initiative, a nonprofit organization Chang started in 2008 that a Queens District Attorney is currently looking into as part of a fraud investigation against the former dean, states the Post.

Chang had already been arrested on Sept. 15 on state charges that she embezzled about $1 million, including a $250,000 donation from a Saudi prince's foundation.

Barry Bohrer, Chang's lawyer, says he thinks the charges against his client are "overblown and not the appropriate subject of a federal proceeding," according to CBS station WCBS.

Chang reportedly worked for the Queens, N.Y. college for 30 years and was the Vice President of International Relations. No charges have been filed against 61-year-old Lau, though he was accused by prosecutors of being involved in "criminal" activity, states the paper. 

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