A woman who said she was raped by JD.com founder Richard Liu filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the billionaire and his company alleging he and other wealthy Chinese executives coerced her to drink during a dinner in the hours before she was attacked.
Jingyao Liu, a student at the University of Minnesota, claims Liu forced himself upon her in his vehicle after the dinner and later raped her at her apartment. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000.
Richard Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape and released within hours. Prosecutors announced in December that he would face no criminal charges because the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and that it was unlikely they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Liu’s defence attorneys said at the time that his arrest was based on a false claim. Liu released a statement on Chinese social media then saying he broke no law, but that his interactions with the woman hurt his family, especially his wife, and he hoped she would accept his apology.
Attorneys for Richard Liu and representatives of JD.com did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The alleged attack happened while Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency as part of the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program. The four-year program in the university’s management school is geared toward high-level executives in China and is a partnership with Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.
Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa. The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent her attorney Wil Florin said Jingyao Liu had agreed to be named.
On the night of the alleged attack, Liu and other executives went to Origami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis. The woman went to the dinner as a volunteer, Florin has said. She felt coerced to drink as the powerful men toasted her, he said.
Text messages reviewed by The Associated Press and portions of the woman’s interviews with police show the woman claims Liu pulled her into a vehicle and made advances despite her protests. The woman texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.” She said he raped her at her apartment.
Liu, known in Chinese as Liu Qiangdong, is a prominent member of the Chinese tech elite, with a fortune of $7.5 billion. He is part of a generation of entrepreneurs who have created China’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone and other technology industries since the late 1990s. The son of peasants, Liu built a Beijing electronics shop into JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, selling everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables.
Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter