Back in March, a high school student named Yiran “Camellia” Liu was lured to a nearby ice cream shop in Rowland Heights, California, and viciously attacked by a group of her peers.

Liu had been attending Oxford School, a private high school for international students, reports People. In her testimony, Liu said that the incident began after she received a text from a friend, asking her to meet at an ice cream parlor to clear up a misunderstanding involving her ex-boyfriend and an unpaid restaurant bill. After arriving, three girls took away Liu’s keys and forced her to get on the floor and clean up spilled ice cream and cigarette butts. Next, they took Liu to a park where they made her strip naked, then proceeded to kick her in the stomach with high-heeled shoes, burned her nipples with cigarettes and cut off her hair, then forced her to eat it.

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One girl also tried setting Liu’s hair on fire, but it wouldn’t work because her hair was wet. According to the LA Times, a girl named Helen told the others to slow the beatings down and not to “hit her so hard, and we can do it a longer stretch of time.” During the beating, Liu didn’t cry. “I don’t want to show them the fact that I was weak,” she said. A total of six girls and four boys either participated in or watched the attack.

Liu and her alleged attackers are referred to as “parachute kids,” a term for Chinese kids who are sent to live and attend school in Southern California while their parents remain back home in China. The kids live with hosts in the San Gabriel Valley who provide them with room, board and transportation. As one could expect, there isn’t much parental supervision for the students. At a June preliminary hearing for three of the alleged attackers, Yunyao “Helen” Zhai, age 19, and Yuhan “Coco” Yang and Xinlei “John” Zhang both 18, Judge Thomas C. Falls said that the incident reminded him of the novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding’s 1954 novel about schoolboys who are stranded on a desert island and turn into savages. “I’m sure they suffer loneliness,” said Rayford Fountain, Yang’s attorney. “So they bond with other kids in the small Chinese circles with no supervision, no one to turn to for assistance. So these things can get out of control.”

The next court hearing for the defendants is planned for July 27.


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

Image via Lord of the Flies, 1990/screengrab.