Susanto, then 25, is a Chinese Catholic who was born in Indonesia and initially entered the United States on a short-term visa to perform in a sports competition. He has lived in Philadelphia since 2001, where he has worked as a cook and held other jobs.
Now he faces imminent deportation despite having once won asylum here, and the story of his odyssey in the criminal justice system is part of a last-ditch effort to prevent his expulsion.
Fundamental to his pitch for sanctuary is his claim, supported by world-affairs experts, that Christians of Chinese descent are routinely mistreated in largely Muslim Indonesia, which has a history of anti-Chinese pogroms, including the one that damaged Susanto's parents' auto shop and hundreds of other Chinese-owned businesses in 1998.
Such violence established his "well-founded fear of persecution," his immigration lawyer argued, and a judge agreed, granting Susanto asylum in July 2003.
But the U.S. government immediately appealed, saying that Susanto hadn't proved that he was the victim of government persecution and getting the Board of Immigration Appeals to reverse the decision. In the interim, Susanto got snared in the criminal case. While the two cases are distinct, the government won all subsequent appeals of his immigration matter that focused on asylum. And Susanto was left to face the criminal charges.
Now he's out of law, out of luck, and out of time. A scheduled meeting today with immigration officials in Philadelphia could swiftly end his days in the United States.
Beyond the local publicity Susanto's case generated, there is its life on the Internet and in the archives of Gatra, Indonesia's widely circulated newsweekly.
Virtually unknown to the public, however, is the fact that the man arrested in October 2003 and charged with exposing himself to 13 victims in seven incidents near the school at 10th and Moore Streets was acquitted of every charge in 2005.
Susanto maintains he was caught in a case of mistaken identity.
Although Susanto was found guilty by a judge at his initial bench trial, he appealed and was later tried by two juries. The first acquitted him of half the charges and couldn't reach a verdict on the others. Tried again on the unresolved charges, he was ultimately exonerated.
"Eighty-four charges and not one sticks?" Susanto said in a recent interview. "You think I'm guilty?"
The families of the girls who testified against him certainly do.
"He flashed my daughter twice. She seen his face. It just gets her upset that he was acquitted. . . . I hope he gets sent back" to Indonesia, said Joyce Kopicko, mother of former Goretti student Dorothy Kopicko, now 19 and enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia.
Even some of Susanto's staunchest supporters, such as the Rev. Tom Betz of Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church at Ninth and Vine Streets, say they can't be 100 percent sure of his innocence, although everything Betz knows about Susanto suggests a person of fine character, he said.
"Do I know if he did it nor not? I don't know. I think the evidence against him was flimsy," said Betz, himself a lawyer, and former head of the Archdiocesan Office for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees. "The jury system is not infallible. But on the other hand, it's the best we got."
In a final effort to avoid deportation, Susanto is trying to reopen his case, using the publicity about his arrest, and virtual lack of notice about his acquittal, as a key. Having exhausted most avenues in the lower federal courts, he is representing himself in an effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court involved.
His theory is simple: In addition to the problems he will face in Indonesia because he is ethnically Chinese and Christian, now he faces additional threats because Indonesians have seen stories that brand him a sexual predator - and nary a word about his acquittal.
The threats, he says, are very real, citing a Gatra online forum in which dozens of readers reacted after a story about his capture was posted.
Some said Susanto should be "beaten unconscious" or "shot dead."
Others said that he was a national disgrace and that his alleged conduct was somehow connected to his ethnicity.
Susanto, a master martial arts performer and trainer, entered the United States at Baltimore in 2001 to compete in a karate competition. He got a six-month extension of his initial three-month visa and moved to Philadelphia, where he lived with an aunt who has since left the country.
His joy at getting asylum in the summer of 2003 came crashing down just three months later with his arrest.
Though he was eligible for bail, the arrest triggered an immigration detainer. For two of the last four years, he was locked up in the city's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and in the immigration wing of York County Prison.
He has been free for about a year as he pursues his immigration case.
Looking back, he says he was caught up in a case of mistaken identity because the flashing suspect was Asian and the widely circulated police artist's sketch of the man was seen by some people to resemble him.
On the day he was beaten, Susanto said, he was walking home around noon after having returned two videos (Charlie's Angels and 28 Days Later) to the Blockbuster then at 10th Street and Snyder Avenue when he was grabbed by two neighborhood men and set upon by a pack of 20 to 30 Goretti students in school uniforms.
Several girls said he was the man who had previously flashed them, and they proceeded to pummel him with hands and feet.
One of the men later testified that he had seen Susanto acting furtively between parked cars before the incident. The other man, who was never identified in court, was described as having hit Susanto to bring him down. Taken to St. Agnes Medical Center in police custody, Susanto was treated for various bruises and two lost front teeth and later jailed.
Being a person of Chinese descent has barred Susanto from admission to Indonesia's military, he said. If accepted permanently into the United States, he would try to enlist here.
"I'd rather die in Iraq," he said, still pleading his case, "than die at home without honor."
Contact staff writer Michael Matza at 215-854-2541, or firstname.lastname@example.org