Officials at St John’s University in New York are up in arms following the suicide of one of its deans, 59 year old Dr Cecilia Chang who was found dead in her Queens apartment yesterday, a day after she testified at her own trial denying having ever embezzled university money of up to $1 million or having forced students to work as servants for her.
Dr Chang also known as ‘the Dean of Mean,’ who headed up the university’s Asian studies program was also plagued with accusations that she was somehow involved with the death of her first husband in 1990 who at the time was shot three times in the back by an unknown assassin.
The suicide comes after Dr Chang two failed attempts to end her life yesterday morning, the first involved slitting her own wrists the second involving trying to kill herself with gas from her fireplace before finally resorting to hanging herself. It wasn’t until a member of the defense team arrived at her house where she had been subpoenaed under house arrest to take her to take to court that her body was found.
Offers the nypost: Brooklyn federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., presiding over her trial, called Chang’s death a “Shakespearean tragedy.”
The judge theorized that Chang wanted to testify on her own behalf yesterday as a final sign-off.
“That could be why wanted to testify — sayonara,” Johnson said, outside the presence of jurors. “She wanted to get it off her chest.”
The judge added: “We never know how an individual handles pressure.”
Dr Chang’s tenure at the university was plagued with consistent rumors of wrongdoing including abusing students who some complained were forced to work at her home under threat, an allegation that Dr Chang had vehemently denied.
She said they simply were entertaining donors to the university as part of their work-study program.
“The students always cook food for the table,” Chang said.
Students who couldn’t afford housing stayed at her home rent-free, she insisted.
“I am always helping some poor students,” Chang said.
Students had previously testified that Chang forced them to wash her underwear by hand.
Heady stuff indeed. Her trial was also met with equal amounts of derision with jurors even laughing at what many thought to be preposterous explanations as to why university funds were being used.
Point in case:
Prosecutors said Chang tasked students with revising her credit-card billing statements by cutting and pasting parts of old statements, to create phony records submitted to the university,
“They actually prepared inaccurate statements for customers to make it easier for them to get reimbursed?” asked Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Charles Kleinberg.
“Yes,” Chang replied.
Chang’s decision to testify on her own behalf completely backfired.
When a prosecutor asked why she told investigators she didn’t own any overseas bank accounts despite having more than $200,000 in one Hong Kong bank, Chang said she hadn’t remembered — because she’d been drinking before the interview.
Drinking before the interview?
And then there’s this via the nydailynews:
The doomed dean, however, said she was stone cold sober when she submitted bogus business expense reports to St. John’s to cover personal expenses like purchases at Victoria’s Secret, gambling services, and memberships to online dating services.
Online dating services too? Then again the first husband was now gone….
The nydailynews also goes on to rehash how Dr Chang was repeatedly admonished by Brooklyn federal judge Sterling Johnson Jr. for arguing with both the prosecutor and her own lawyer. Something one imagines not even a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter would be capable of conjuring up.
At present it is not clear whether Dr Chang left a note pursuant to her suicide. So much for Shakesperian tragedies….