Days Before Civil Trial, Chinese Billionaire Richard Liu Settles US Rape Charge

SHANGHAI: Billionaire Richard Liu, founder of one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, has settled a civil suit brought by former University of Michigan student Liu Jingyao, who accused him of rape. The lawsuit was part of a long-running legal battle between Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao, who was a 21-year-old college student in 2018 when she said Richard Liu raped her after a night of eating and drinking.

A statement from the parties to the lawsuit read: “The 2018 incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota resulted in a misunderstanding that has attracted significant public attention and deeply distressed the parties and their families.”

It further confirmed that the case, which began jury selection proceedings in a Minnesota court last week, has been resolved, but has not disclosed the terms of the settlement. declined to comment further on the matter, while lawyers for Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Richard Liu is a well-known billionaire in China who founded and was CEO until earlier this year. He handed over the CEO to Xu Lei in April.

Liu Jingyao filed the civil suit in April 2019, four months after prosecutors refused to file criminal charges against Richard Liu.

The case has severely damaged Liu’s reputation in China and put his control over the e-commerce giant under scrutiny. In 2019, he resigned from the advisory body of the Chinese parliament, citing “personal reasons”.

The case had also roused many women in China, where issues like sexual harassment and assault were rarely broached in public for years until the #MeToo movement took root in 2018, though it has since faced online censorship and official pushback.

Supporters of Liu Jingyao on Chinese social media called the settlement a victory for China’s #MeToo movement.

News of the settlement quickly began to gain popularity on Chinese social media on Sunday, with more than 110 million people reading news on the subject.

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