Student sues Chinese billionaire Richard Liu, JD.com after rape charge fell



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The undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota accused billionaire Richard Liu of raping a civil suit against the executive director of e-commerce giant JD.com and the company itself, seeking monetary damages almost four months after prosecutors decided not to press charges criminal proceedings.

Jingyao Liu, a 21-year-old student at the time of the incident, accused the Chinese company and its employees played a key role in the alleged August rape while Liu was taking part in a doctoral program in business administration at the university.

A public relations executive bought 32 bottles of wine for more than $ 3,600 with a company credit card at a dinner party that preceded the incident, and paid the dinner bill with the same corporate card, according to the complaint.

Another woman affiliated with JD was in the limo while the CEO allegedly felt and pressed on the student.

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Jingyao Liu claims he assaulted her in his apartment after offering him alcohol at a business dinner with more than a dozen Chinese executives, according to the complaint filed in Hennepin County Court, Minnesota. After police arrived at the apartment to investigate, Liu allegedly attempted to intimidate her into an exchange recorded on the cameras of the police corps, according to the lawsuit.

A police photo of Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, arrested in 2018 in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.

AP

A police photo of Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, arrested in 2018 in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.

"What the hell?" Liu said in Mandarin, prompting the complainant "to fear not only for her own safety but also for the safety of her family in China."

Liu, his lawyers and JD denied wrongdoing.

"We have not yet reviewed the complaint and will not comment on the pending litigation," said Jill Brisbois, Liu's lawyer. "But based on the declination of the Hennepin County Prosecutor to accuse our client and our belief in his innocence, we feel strongly that this process is without merit and will vigorously defend against it."

Rape accusations have hovered over JD.com shares since they were released in September. Liu's exaggerated control over voting rights intimately linked the fate of the company to his. In China, he is seen as a visionary founder and the driving force behind one of the country's most successful Internet companies.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that JD.com is preparing deep cuts to its workforce and rescinding some job offers as the Chinese e-commerce giant struggles to revive morale and control losses.

In the civil action, Jingyao Liu and his lawyers reaffirmed many allegations of the controversial night in Minnesota and added some new ones.

Shortly before the start of classes for the fall semester of 2018, the student was invited to participate as a "volunteer" of the university's doctoral program in business administration, or DBA, which serves "rich and influential executives in China." She was invited by Tony Haitao Cui, associate vice president of the global DBA program, who did not explain "that almost all" volunteers were young and female while almost all or all of the student executives were sex male and middle-aged ". according to the suit.

Jingyao Liu was volunteering at the reception of the university's Carlson School of Management on August 29 when she was invited to a group dinner the following night by Charlie Yao, also known as Qiyong Yao, a DBA program executive, according to the suit. Yao met her during college run sessions and offered her a job in China, but he did not tell her that JD's CEO specifically asked her to attend dinner.

A woman who said she was raped by Liu claims he and other wealthy Chinese executives coerced her into drinking dinner before being attacked.

MARK LENNIHAN / AP

A woman who said she was raped by Liu claims he and other wealthy Chinese executives coerced her into drinking dinner before being attacked.

On the afternoon of August 30, Liu, who was staying on the roof of the Ivy Hotel with his wife, Zhang Zetian, accompanied her and other family members to the local airport for a private flight leaving Minneapolis, the suit said. He later joined dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Origami, where Jingyao Liu was instructed by Yao to sit next to the CEO of JD at a table with about 15 exclusively male executives.

In addition to the alcohol purchased at the restaurant, the group drank more than 30 bottles of wine purchased by Vivian Yang, or Han Yang, a JD public relations and communications executive, according to the suit. The document also details the store where the wine was purchased and the last four digits of a purported company issued a credit card.

Jingyao Liu was reportedly pressured to drink during Liu's toasts, which he said would "dishonor" her if she resisted in front of her guests; she soon became weak.

When dinner ended around 9:11 pm, Jingyao Liu was taken to a limo JD hired during the week for about $ 18,000 and was accompanied by CEO Yang and the other woman, Alice Zhang.

Yang instructed the driver to take them to a mansion that had been rented by another executive in the DBA program and during the trip, the CEO "began to grope and physically force himself against the author," according to the complaint.

When they arrived at the mansion and Jingyao Liu realized that she had not been taken to her residence, she implored in English "I want to go home."

During the trip to his apartment, the CEO allegedly touched her while the student begged him to stop. Zhang supposedly turned the rearview mirror so the driver could not see what was happening behind him.

When the CEO and student arrived at his apartment, he came in, took off his clothes and lay down naked, according to the suit. She never consented to any sexual act and repeatedly asked him to stop, but he supposedly dominated her. Then she secretly sent a message through WeChat to another volunteer to say that she was sexually assaulted; He called 911 to report the emergency and the Minneapolis police arrived at about 3:10.

After the student answered the door, the police officers found the CEO lying in bed, wearing a T-shirt, but naked from the waist down, according to the suit.

While he was handcuffed and removed, Liu "clearly tried to bully" the student looking and "irritably telling her" what the heck? in Mandarin. "Jingyao Liu said at the time that she had been raped and that the CEO was very wealthy and powerful.

She "told the police officer that she was worried about her immediate safety and what might happen to her in the future when she is legally required to return to China." All that has been said appears in camera footage, "the suit said.

In December, the local prosecutor who refused to charge Liu said he made his decision after reviewing surveillance videos, text messages, police camera videos and witness testimony.

"It was clear that we could not meet our burden of proof and therefore we could not make charges," said Mike Freeman, a Hennepin County lawyer at the time.

Jingyao Liu is seeking "significant compensatory damages" and will also seek punitive damages against Liu and JD.com, according to a statement issued by his lawyers.

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