Man Who Groped Toddler Avoids Jail: It's a 'Sign of Affection' in His Country
Judge accepted it as a 'cultural mistake' and discharged him without conviction
A 79-year-old man has walked free from court, without conviction, for grabbing a toddler's genitals in a swimming pool changing room after convincing the judge that it is a "sign of affection" in his native China.
The elderly Chinese man touched a toddler's penis while the young boy was getting changed with his father.
Changfu Ren, 79, avoided a conviction, claiming he didn't realize it was a crime as the practice is acceptable behavior in China.
Ren has appeared in Christchurch District Court in New Zealand to face sentencing over the incident that occurred in August last year.
The grandfather moved to New Zealand from his native China in 2009.
Ren was in the changing rooms of the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre when he approached the child who was with his father.
The small boy was getting changed when Ren began to laugh, according to court documents.
He then reached over and touched the boy's penis in a flicking motion.
He laughed again and gently pinched the boy's penis before the father told him to stop, Stuff reported.
Ren told police the boy had reminded him of his grandson in China who he missed.
He said he had been showing affection and was unaware it was an offense in New Zealand.
Judge Alistair Garland agreed that it was a "cultural mistake" and also agreed a conviction would have a "substantial effect on his self-esteem."
"The practice needs to be understood in terms of Mr. Ren's culture, which places a much higher status or value on male children than female children.
"Genitals were perceived as a symbol of the revered male gender."
Ren was discharged without conviction.
He had already apologized to the boy's parents and paid $1,000 as compensation to go towards the child's education.