FAIRFAX, Va. — A Fairfax County judge dropped a case against a man accused of sexually assaulting a random woman in Chantilly in July.
Police called Hien The Dinh, 20, a sexual predator after he was first arrested for allegedly grabbing a 23-year-old woman from behind and touching her inappropriately. Investigators claimed he was connected to similar cases across northern Virginia, with pending charges in Loudoun and Prince William Counties.
During his preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that there was not enough probable cause to move his case in Fairfax County to trial based on the evidence presented by the Commonwealth, ultimately dismissing his charges of sexual battery and abduction with intent to defile.
The 23-year-old victim testified on the stand how she was with her younger sibling and mother outside a family friend’s home when she felt someone approach her from behind.
“I was paralyzed,” she said. “My only reaction was to scream and not let go of my brother's stroller. I was scared.”
She described how she felt one hand touch her rear and intimate parts while the other hand “tried to detain” her.
"The other hand tried to grab me, and I screamed,” she explained. “I didn't know what his intentions were."
The woman said the only time she captured a glimpse of the suspect during the short interaction was when he ran away after she screamed. She described his clothes, body type, and the mask he wore. The Commonwealth never asked her to confirm if Dinh was her attacker.
Prosecutor Kate Steier also had the detective who interviewed Dinh take the stand. She played a clip of his interview with captured Dinh admitting to compulsions, following, and slapping her rear.
However, public defender Dawn Butorac questioned why the detective never asked Dinh to describe the woman he was referring to, ultimately using that to question how Dinh was identified as the main suspect.
The detective said he denied placing his hands on her neck.
Butorac fired back at the Commonwealth’s case by saying they failed to meet the criteria of the charges. She said based on the victim’s testimony, Dinh never detained her for a period of time that warranted his abduction charge.
“There was no evidence her no movement was restricted in any way,” Butorac said.
In response, the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney told WUSA9, “Our office takes allegations of sexual assault extremely seriously and our prosecutors present the strongest case possible at preliminary hearings. Ultimately, the judge in this case did not find probable cause.”
Despite the case being dismissed, Dinh will remain in jail due to other cases.
He was arrested while he was still on probation for a separate conviction in Henrico County last year for sexual assault.