Sex case against magician dismissed

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A sexual battery case alleging a magician assaulted a boy in a Loganville restaurant's bathroom last year has been dismissed, officials said Friday.

Last August, a 3-year-old boy reportedly told his mother that Ming Shun Lai, 64, of Lawrenceville, fondled him in a stall at Nagoya Japanese Steak House, where Lai worked as a greeter and magician.

Police arrested Lai on sexual battery charges when the boy's mother came forward to authorities. He spent a day in jail before posting $5,800 bond.

Lai's defense attorney, Jim Michael, said restaurant surveillance footage provided by the defense -- along with testimonials from friends and co-workers that spoke to Lai's good character -- were key in having the charges thrown out.

Prosecutors dismissed the case in late April due to insufficient evidence, a Gwinnett District Attorney's Office representative confirmed Friday.

"We had some concerns about the nature and timing of the outcry, as well as concerns about the lack of consistency and corroboration of witness statements," said Tracie Cason, assistant district attorney.

The child's parents were notified of the decision to not prosecute prior to the case's dismissal, Cason said.

Michael said his client had emigrated to the United States more than three decades ago and worked his way up through the restaurant industry in New York and later Georgia. Lai has since retired to spend more time with family, Michael said.

"I don't think he'd had even a speeding ticket in his lifetime," the attorney said. "This was a burden lifted from him and his family."