Caixin
Apr 18, 2019 08:34 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

New Details Emerge in Richard Liu Rape Suit

Richard Liu, chairman and CEO of online retailer JD.com. Photo: IC.
Richard Liu, chairman and CEO of online retailer JD.com. Photo: IC.

More details have emerged in the new civil lawsuit brought against Chinese billionaire Richard Liu by the woman who accused him of rape last year.

According to the court filing obtained by Caixin Wednesday, plaintiff Jingyao Liu has accused the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. of civil assault and battery, false imprisonment, and sexual assault and rape. She is also suing JD.com for vicarious liabilities.

As Caixin reported yesterday, Liu Jingyao filed a civil case in a court in Minnesota’s Hennepin county on Tuesday, almost four months after prosecutors in the state decided against charging Richard Liu.

In late December, Minnesota prosecutors said they had decided not to press felony rape charges against Richard Liu because of insufficient evidence, concluding a three-month review of the closely watched case. Prosecutors said they had concerns about proving the case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

While that is the burden of proof for a criminal conviction in the U.S., civil cases have a lower burden of proof.

In a statement Tuesday, the plaintiff’s lawyer said prosecutors had recently advised they are open to revisiting their December decision if they are provided with “compelling additional information.”

Hennepin County Attorney’s Office spokesperson Chuck Laszewski told Caixin Wednesday that they would consider reopening any case if substantial new evidence emerged, but at present the situation remained unchanged from December “because it’s a civil case and had nothing to do with us.”

Richard Liu, 45, also known as Liu Qiangdong in Chinese, was arrested in Minneapolis on Aug. 31 after being accused of rape following a boozy dinner during a university program he was attending. He was released the next day without charge and allowed to return to China.

Criminal defense lawyer Dongfa Zhou, who practices in Minnesota, told Caixin the district court should set a court date in the next couple of weeks.

He said the fact the plaintiff is pursuing the case suggests she may believe she has substantial evidence.

Jingyao Liu and her attorneys are seeking significant compensatory damages as well as punitive damages for an amount exceeding a $50,000 threshold, but the court filing did not say exactly how much. It says the incident caused her to withdraw from her university classes and to actively seek “ongoing professional counseling, care and treatment.”

The court filing contradicts the account of Richard Liu’s attorney last December, alleging the plaintiff never consented to sexual contact with the e-commerce tycoon.

It also details additional allegations about the incident last August. Jingyao Liu accused Richard Liu of raping her after a business networking dinner with more than a dozen male Chinese executives, according to the filing. After police arrived at the scene, it alleges Richard Liu tried to intimidate her in an exchange recorded on the officers’ body cameras, leading the plaintiff “to fear not only for her own safety but also for the safety of her family in China.”

Richard Liu, JD.com, and their attorneys have previously denied any wrongdoing.

“We have not yet reviewed the complaint and are not going to comment on pending litigation,” Richard Liu’s attorney Jill Brisbois said in a statement Tuesday. “But based on the Hennepin County Attorney’s declination to charge a case against our client and our belief in his innocence, we feel strongly that this suit is without merit and will vigorously defend against it.” JD.com declined to comment on the civil suit.

Dogged by the allegations against Richard Liu, who maintains tight control of the company with almost 80% of its voting rights, JD.com’s Nasdaq-listed shares took a nosedive last year, losing as much as 60% of their value from a January high. The Chinese tech giant’s stock price rebounded in late December after prosecutors announced they would not file criminal charges.

JD.com’s shares fell 0.20% in the U.S. on Wednesday to close at $29.85, and have lost around 1% in overnight trading.

Contact reporter Isabelle Li (liyi@caixin.com)

You've accessed an article available only to subscribers
VIEW OPTIONS
Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code
GALLERY