Chinese language Tech Billionaire Richard Liu Settles Sexual-Assault Case in Minnesota


Richard Liu,

the billionaire founding father of Chinese language e-commerce big Inc.,

settled a sexual-assault lawsuit filed in opposition to him by a former pupil on the College of Minnesota, ending a authorized battle seen as pivotal for China’s embattled #MeToo motion.

The settlement to settle got here simply earlier than a jury in Minneapolis was set to listen to testimony to find out whether or not Mr. Liu raped the coed,

Jingyao Liu,

in 2018. Opening statements had been scheduled for Monday. Each Mr. Liu, who’s in his late 40s, and Ms. Liu, now 25 years previous, have been anticipated to testify on the civil trial.

Ms. Liu’s allegations sparked widespread dialogue in China over the previous 4 years. Whereas Minneapolis prosecutors in 2018 declined to criminally cost Mr. Liu, citing inadequate proof, Ms. Liu’s civil go well with had stored the matter within the highlight.

Round noon on Sunday in China, launched what it described as a joint assertion from the events, saying that they’d agreed to settle the lawsuit and “put aside their variations.”

“The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public consideration and introduced profound struggling to the events and their households,” the assertion learn. Phrases of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

Ms. Liu’s attorneys launched an identically worded assertion, including that Ms. Liu wouldn’t remark additional.

Mr. Liu launched a separate assertion in his personal identify, during which he apologized and expressed hope that his life and his work might return to regular as shortly as attainable. Within the assertion, Mr. Liu instantly addressed his spouse, Zhang Zetian, who’s a outstanding determine on Chinese language social media, thanking her for her assist and forbearance. “With out her, I’d not have been in a position to survive to today,” Mr. Liu wrote wrote within the assertion, which was in Chinese language. “I want everybody a greater tomorrow!”

In China, dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct in opposition to well-known males have surfaced lately, however the #MeToo motion has had few triumphs.

Chinese language feminist activists handled information of the settlement as an necessary milestone, with supporters of Ms. Liu calling it a “historic second” in a social-media submit.

In August 2018, Ms. Liu alleged that Mr. Liu, a expertise billionaire who’s amongst China’s most outstanding businessmen, groped her whereas escorting her dwelling after each attended an alcohol-laden group dinner at a Minneapolis restaurant and raped her in her condo. The 2 aren’t associated.

At the moment, Mr. Liu was attending an govt program on the College of Minnesota whereas Ms. Liu, then an undergraduate pupil, was volunteering for this system. Mr. Liu’s firm was additionally named as a defendant within the lawsuit.

Mr. Liu was arrested on the night of Aug. 31, 2018, in Minneapolis on suspicion of rape. He was launched the subsequent day. Mr. Liu has denied all wrongdoing and maintains the intercourse was consensual.

One issue that units the case other than different Chinese language #MeToo instances was that it performed out exterior China, the place activists and a few authorized specialists say sexual-assault accusers face vital challenges in pursuing allegations.

Darius Longarino,

a analysis scholar at Yale Legislation Faculty who has written extensively on how Chinese language courts have handled sexual-harassment instances, stated if the case had occurred in China, Mr. Liu would have been in a stronger place. “Within the U.S., he had a a lot larger probability of shedding,” Mr. Longarino stated.

In depositions cited by Choose Edward T. Wahl on the Hennepin County District Courtroom in Minneapolis in a pretrial memorandum, Mr. Liu stated he poured Ms. Liu 5 to seven glasses of wine on the dinner in 2018. The doc additionally cited depositions of Ms. Liu during which she stated that Mr. Liu advised her that if she refused his or different executives’ toasts, she would dishonor them. Choose Wahl cautioned that the statements didn’t represent findings of info however supplied background and context for the courtroom.

Whereas the settlement signifies that Mr. Liu and Ms. Liu gained’t be questioned in courtroom, feminist activists stated the truth that Ms. Liu’s go well with drew consideration to points similar to Chinese language business-drinking tradition and hostile public discourse towards accusers of sexual assault in China was its personal victory.

“Whereas many individuals haven’t modified their perceptions of those points, their concepts have been challenged,” stated U.S.-based feminist activist Lü Pin.

Greater than a dozen media shops had deliberate to cowl the trial, together with Chinese language enterprise publication Jiemian. Forward of the trial, Chinese language feminist activists and group organizers raised funds to assist Ms. Liu’s supporters journey to Minneapolis and attend the trial, which had been anticipated to final 4 weeks.

Ms.Liu’s supporters, who had deliberate a rally for her in Minneapolis after Monday’s opening statements, expressed assist for her choice to settle.

Zhou Xiaoxuan, a number one determine of China’s #MeToo motion who misplaced her attraction in a landmark Chinese language sexual-harassment case in August, wrote in an essay on social media, “Throughout the space of time and area, Jingyao and her supporters grew to become mates, supporting one another for 4 years, which in itself is a testomony to justice and girls’s energy.”

Ms. Zhou had accused a Chinese language state-television presenter, Zhu Jun, of sexually harassing her when she was an intern. Mr. Zhu has denied wrongdoing.

Ms. Liu sought each compensatory damages overlaying bills similar to medical and counseling payments, and punitive damages, that are designed to punish a defendant for egregious misconduct.

Mr. Liu, who has largely retreated from public view, stepped again from each day involvement at his e-commerce firm late final yr and, in April of this yr, Mr. Liu stepped down as chief govt.

Write to Shen Lu at and Rebecca Feng at

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Rahul Diyashi
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