LAKE CITY, Fla. – Hoang My Tran, 51, was arrested Sunday night and charged with lewd and lascivious behavior after Lake City detectives said he was accused of inappropriately touching a boy under the age of 10.
The incident was reported in the outdoor area of the Adams Agency Apartments in Lake City where, according to the Lake City Police Department, a young boy was playing on his skateboard Sunday evening when Tran walked up from behind and started fondling him. Police said Tran returned to an apartment that he shares with other family members who are from Vietnam.
The boy’s mother, who News4JAX is not identifying for the safety of the child, said her son ran home scared and told her what happened.
“It hearts me to my heart to see my son scared,” she said.
The mom said she went over to her neighbor’s apartment to confront Tran.
“They were talking in some language and they wouldn’t even open the door. So, I said, ‘I’m just going to call the police,’” she said.
Police showed up and ordered everyone out of the house. Then, according to the arrest report, they conducted a lineup so that the boy could point out the man suspected of fondling him. The boy pointed to Tran. When police tried questioning Tran, there was a language barrier, so Tran’s brother got on the phone to translate.
According to the arrest report, Tran’s brother — Hoang — told officers it’s culturally acceptable for adults to touch children in that way back home. News4JAX spoke with his brother to explain what he meant. Notably, his response was in broken English.
“Yeah, we love the children. Like our child is used to hit the butt. Things like that are normal in our culture, but I don’t know what exactly happened to my brother. I explained to the police to understand our culture,” he said.
By Monday afternoon, a letter was left on Tran’s door ordering him and everyone else living in the apartment to vacate the property within seven days because their lease agreement was terminated.
Following the arrest, News4JAX saw several parents at the complex, discussing ways of keeping their children safe.
“We have to protect our kids at all costs. And we should not have to worry about who’s across the yard,” said neighbor Kaitlyn Summerfield.
“Right here is a community. And we always take care of these kids, and for something like this to happen is like unheard of,” said Ammie Horton, a resident.
A judge set Tran’s bond at $400,000.