The graphic videos set off public anger and despair as many women raised concerns for their personal safety.
It also recalled the public sense of despair over violence against women that went unpunished, such as a case earlier in the year where a video circulated of a woman chained to the wall in a home in the country side. Authorities later found in an investigation that the woman had been trafficked and sold as a bride.
Initially, police arrested nine people, seven men and two women, for the attack on the four women. Two of the women had to be hospitalized for their injuries.
The investigation over the public assault has evolved into a larger investigation over criminal activities and corruption. Prosecutors later said they were charging 27 other people for crimes uncovered during the investigation.
In August, Communist Party authorities from the Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection said they were investigating 15 officials over corruption that involved “evil organizations,” including those associated with the attackers.
The 15, including the director of Tangshan’s public security bureau and officers from several police stations, are suspected of abuse of power, bribery and other job-related crimes. Eight of them have been detained during the investigation.