Chinese billionaire Richard Liu will stand trial for charges brought in a lawsuit filed by a former University of Minnesota student. On the mainland, the tycoon is also known as Liu Qiangdong , founder and former CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com.
Jury selection began on September 29 in Minneapolis.
According to MPR News, the former student, Jingyao Liu, now 25, claims that Richard Liu raped her in an apartment after a business dinner in Minneapolis in August 2018. As she attended as a volunteer, Jingyao Liu said Richard Liu forced her to consume alcohol against her will.
The former student filed a civil lawsuit against her attacker and his company JD.com in 2019 for sexual assault and battery, in addition to false imprisonment. She is seeking $50,000 in damages.
That year, no charges were brought against the Chinese behemoth, who is now 50 years old.
The Associated Press reported that Jingyao Liu was initially unclear about the assault when the police visited her apartment. She told them Richard Liu was famous and she was afraid, adding that she did not want law enforcement to get involved.
The Chinese billionaire refuted the allegations, maintaining that it was consensual. In a phone call recording provided by Richard Liu’s former attorney, Jingyao Liu said she did not want to publicize the case, noting that she only wanted compensation and an apology.
The recording will be used as evidence in court. The trial will also feature surveillance footage from the restaurant, its exterior, and the hallways of the woman’s apartment building.
According to Forbes, Richard Liu is one of the top 200 wealthiest persons in the world, with a net worth of $11.5 billion. Described by the Financial Times as China’s Jeff Bezos, he has become one of the most prominent figures in China to face trial for sexual allegations. This also marks a noteworthy turn in the country’s anemic #MeToo movement.
In China, similar cases against powerful individuals barely make it to court. Even if they do, the eventual outcome would mostly favor the accused. The most recent example was in August when a Beijing court dismissed an appeal by a Chinese TV intern against popular state broadcaster CCTV host Zhu Jun . The intern accused Zhu of sexual harassment, but the court ruled that the evidence against him was insufficient.