MINNEAPOLIS — Chinese billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a former University of Minnesota student who alleged he raped her in his Minneapolis apartment after a night of dining and drinking with wealthy Chinese executives in 2018. , announced the lawyers of both parties. Saturday afternoon.
A settlement amount was not disclosed.
Richard Liu, who resigned as CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce company JD.com this year amid increased government scrutiny of China’s tech industry, has denied raping the woman, Jingyao Liu, and prosecutors never filed criminal charges. A joint statement from lawyers for both sides called the meeting “a misunderstanding.”
“The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed a great deal of public attention and caused deep suffering to the parties and their families,” the joint statement said. “Today, the parties have agreed to set aside their differences and resolve their legal dispute to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit.”
The settlement was announced just two days before the civil trial was to begin Monday in a Minneapolis court. On Friday, a jury of seven men and five women was chosen to hear the case.
Richard Liu is a celebrity in China, part of a generation of entrepreneurs who have built 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 that the attack occurred in 2018 while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a week-long residency at the University of Minnesota’s doctoral program in business administration in China, aimed at high-level executives in China.
Jingyao Liu, a Chinese citizen, was at the university on a student visa and was volunteering with the program at the time. The Associated Press does not generally name people who allege sexual assault, but Jingyao Liu has agreed to be publicly identified.
Jingyao Liu was 21 years old and Richard Liu was in his 40s at the time, according to the lawsuit. 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 “deep evidential problems” and declined to file criminal charges.
Jingyao Liu sued Richard Liu and JD.com in 2019, alleging sexual assault and battery, as well as false imprisonment.
The case attracted a lot of attention at a time when the #MeToo movement was gaining traction in China. Supporters and opponents of Richard Liu waged an aggressive public relations campaign on Chinese social media; censors closed some accounts supporting Jingyao Liu for “rule violations”.
Jingyao Liu said in her lawsuit that she had to withdraw from classes in the fall of 2018 and seek counseling and treatment. Her attorney said that she has already graduated but that she has post-traumatic stress disorder. She sought compensatory and punitive damages from Richard Liu.
His lawsuit said he was seeking more than $50,000, a standard figure that must be listed in Minnesota if a plaintiff intends to seek more than that. He 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 compelled to drink while powerful men toasted her, and Richard Liu said she would disgrace him if she didn’t join, her claim stated.
According to text messages reviewed by The Associated Press and Jingyao Liu’s interviews with police, she said that after dinner, Richard Liu put her into a limousine and groped her despite her protests. She said that he raped her in her apartment. At one point, she texted a friend: “I didn’t beg. But he didn’t listen.”
Her friend notified the police, who went to her apartment. Jingyao Liu told an officer, “I was raped, but not that kind of rape,” according to police. When she was asked to explain, she changed the subject and said that Richard Liu was famous and that she was scared. She told the officer that the sex was “spontaneous” and that she did not want the police to be involved.
Police said they released Richard Liu because “it was not clear whether a crime had actually occurred.” In a later interview with an investigator, Richard Liu said the sex was consensual and the woman “really enjoyed the whole process.”
Jingyao Liu told a police sergeant that he wanted to talk to Richard Liu’s lawyer and threatened to go to the media if he didn’t, according to police. Richard Liu’s former lawyer recorded the phone call, in which Jingyao Liu said that he did not want the case to be in the newspaper and “I just need money to pay and apologize and that’s it.”
A recording of the phone call was expected to be played as evidence at trial. Jurors were also expected to play surveillance video of the restaurant, the restaurant’s exterior and the hallways of the woman’s apartment complex.