Six men and one woman are standing trial after a child prostitution ring was smashed in Southwest China's Xishui county, Guizhou province, Wednesday. Some of the victims were as young as 13.
Yuan Ronghui, a 37-year-old jobless woman, was charged with organizing prostitution.
Another six men, including four government officials, a teacher, a taxi driver, were charged with child rape after police uncovered the prostitution ring, involving 11 girls aged between 13 and 18 in October last year.
The courtroom was closed to protect the privacy of the girls, said Yu Deping, president of the people's court of Xishui county, Guizhou province. No verdict was reached yesterday.
Local police began investigating the case on Aug 15 last year when a victim's mother reported that her daughter had been coaxed, abused and raped.
Police allege 11 schoolgirls - three under 14 and eight aged between 14 and 18 - were forced to provide sexual services by Yuan, a 14-year-old school dropout surnamed Liu and her boyfriend, 15-year-old Yuan, from Oct 2007 to July 2008.
Police arrested seven suspects, including official Li Shoumin, of the county migration office, land and resources official Chen Mengran, social security official Huang Yongliang, legal affairs official Chen Cun, local real estate developer Mu Mingzhong, school teacher Feng Zhiyang and taxi driver Feng Yong. Li Shoumin was removed from his post before the trial.
Mu Mingzhong, a manager of a local real estate company, also county NPC member, was suspended from his role as a legislator.
It is not known if Mu has been charged and he did not appear in court yesterday, according to CCTV.
"The other government officials will also face severe punishments after the trial is over (if they are found guilty)," Li Ling, secretary of the Xishui County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said.
Yuan Yunqin, secretary of the political and legislative affairs committee of the CPC Xishui county committee, said the female Yuan, a former prostitute, knew many "influential people" in town.
"She offered her own apartment as a venue, helped find clients and took a 30 percent cut - roughly 100 yuan ($14) - per person."
The remaining 70 percent went to 14-year-old school dropout Liu and her boyfriend.
He said the two teenagers, who were drug addicts and needed money, helped her to persuade the young girls.
Yuan was arrested after the prostitution ring was uncovered in August.
Teenagers Liu and Yuan have been put in a local juvenile detention center, the county chief prosecutor Ren Bingqiang has said.
The jail term for rapists is from three to 10 years in China, but child rapists can be sentenced for life or receive the death penalty if the victim was under 14.