Monday Dec 5, 2022
Monday Dec 5, 2022

Billionaire Richard Liu settles rape allegation


Nepalnews
2022 Oct 02, 13:39, MINNEAPOLIS
Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, CEO of JD.com, raises his arms to celebrate the IPO for his company at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York on May 22, 2014. (AP Photo)

Chinese billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a former University of Minnesota student who alleged he raped her in her Minneapolis apartment after a night of dinner and drinks with wealthy Chinese executives in 2018, attorneys for both sides announced late Saturday.

A settlement amount was not disclosed.

Richard Liu, who stepped down as the CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce company JD.com this year amid increased government scrutiny of China’s technology industry, has denied raping the woman, Jingyao Liu, and prosecutors never filed criminal charges. A joint statement from attorneys for both sides called the encounter “a misunderstanding.”

The settlement was announced just two days before the civil trial was set to begin Monday in a Minneapolis courtroom. On Friday, a jury of seven men and five women were picked to hear the case.

Richard Liu is a celebrity in China, part of a generation of entrepreneurs who created the country’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone and other technology industries since the late 1990s. Forbes estimated his wealth at $10.9 billion on Saturday.

Jingyao Liu alleges the attack happened in 2018 while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency in the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program, geared toward high-level executives in China.

Jingyao Liu, a Chinese citizen, was at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the program at the time. The Associated Press does not generally name people alleging sexual assault, but Jingyao Liu has agreed to be identified publicly.

Jingyao Liu was 21 and Richard Liu was in his mid-40s at the time, the lawsuit said. They are not related.

Richard Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, was arrested on suspicion of felony rape in August 2018, but prosecutors said the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and declined to file criminal charges.

Jingyao Liu sued Richard Liu and JD.com in 2019, alleging sexual assault and battery, along with false imprisonment.

The case drew widespread attention at a time when the #MeToo movement was gaining traction in China. Richard Liu’s supporters and opponents waged an aggressive public relations campaigns on Chinese social media; censors shut down some accounts that supported Jingyao Liu for “violating regulations.”

Jingyao Liu said in her lawsuit that she had to withdraw from classes in fall 2018 and seek counseling and treatment. Her attorney said she has since graduated but has post-traumatic stress disorder. She sought compensatory as well as punitive damages from Richard Liu.

Her lawsuit said she was seeking more than $50,000, a standard figure that must be listed in Minnesota if a plaintiff intends to seek any larger amount. She was expected to ask a jury to award much more.

On the night of the alleged attack, according to the lawsuit, Richard Liu and other executives went to a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis and one of the men invited Jingyao Liu at Richard Liu’s request.

She felt coerced to drink as the powerful men toasted her, and Richard Liu said she would dishonor him if she did not join in, her lawsuit claimed.

According to text messages reviewed by The Associated Press and Jingyao Liu’s interviews with police, she said that after the dinner Richard Liu pulled her into a limousine and groped her despite her protests. She said he raped her at her apartment. At one point, she texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.”

Her friend notified police, who went to her apartment. Jingyao Liu told one officer, “I was raped but not that kind of rape,” according to police. When asked to explain, she changed the subject and said Richard Liu was famous and she was afraid. She told the officer that the sex was “spontaneous” and she did not want police to get involved.

A recording of the phone call was expected to be played as evidence at trial. Surveillance videos from the restaurant, the restaurant’s exterior and the halls of the woman’s apartment complex were also expected to be played for jurors.

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Chinese billionaire JD.com founder Richard Liu settles rape allegation former University of Minnesota student Minneapolis apartment CEO sexual assault The Associated Press
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