Courts tug-of-war over teacher accused of molestation

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Neng Yang*/ faces four federal counts of sexual exploitation. He's also charged with 45 counts of molestation in state courts -- and there's a little tug-of-war between the two court systems.

Action News has witnessed some tension between the lawyers involved in this case, but they all seem to be on the same page now.

In the end, the difference between the courts boils down to what happens if a defendant is found guilty: what kind of prison he'll go to, and how long he'll stay there.

A crowd of supporters spilled out of the federal courthouse Monday after accused child molester Neng Yang made his second appearance in federal court -- just days after his second appearance at the county courthouse.

The former second grade teacher wears the same glasses and the same red prison jumpsuit no matter which courtroom he's in. But the treatment he receives is different, and his attorney in state court noticed as much last week.

"Just as I'm standing here with him, I'm certainly getting threatening looks, as is Mr. Yang, from the other people in the courtroom -- other [inmates]," said public defender Margarita Martinez-Baly.

Cameras aren't allowed in federal court, but Yang is kept separate from other inmates.

If he's convicted, his treatment would also be different.

In federal court, he's facing four counts with a maximum sentence of 30 years on each. In state court, he's charged with 45 counts with a maximum sentence of life in prison on each count.

ABC-30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says it's possible Yang could eventually be released if he was only convicted on federal charges, but he expects a hybrid deal.

"It'll be a plea of guilty, I'm sure," Capozzi said. "But it'll be a global settlement where both the state and the federal people will agree on the kind of sentence he'll get."

Capozzi said Yang will most likely end up in a federal prison because of safety concerns, but he won't be doing so-called "soft time."

"He won't be entitled to go into a camp which is called Club Fed or country club type of situation," he said. "That's not going to happen for him. He's going to be in a medium to high security prison. Frankly, [he'll go there] for the rest of his life."

Yang is due back in both courts in April.

Meanwhile, Clovis Police are still interviewing his former students to see if there might be more victims.

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