Minnesota Student Sues JD.com's CEO Liu, Company Over Rape Allegation

The lawsuit in Hennepin County court seeks more than $50,000 in damages and names Richard Liu and JD.com as defendants.

Author: Reuters   

A University of Minnesota student who said she was raped last August by Richard Liu, the chief executive officer of China's e-commerce retailer JD.com Inc. (Nasdaq: JD), filed a civil lawsuit against him in a Minneapolis court on Tuesday, nearly four months after prosecutors declined to press criminal charges.

Liu, through his lawyers, maintained his innocence throughout the investigation of the woman's allegation.

The lawsuit in Hennepin County court seeks more than $50,000 in damages and names Richard Liu and JD.com as defendants. It identifies the student as Liu Jingyao.

Richard Liu's attorney, Jill Brisbois, could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for JD.com also could not be immediately reached for comment.

"This action arises out of a sexual assault and battery that caused damages of more than $50,000," the court document said.

The student accused Richard Liu of rape in August when he was visiting the University of Minnesota to attend a doctor of business administration programme directed at Chinese executives.

The 46-year-old Liu, who started JD.com as a humble electronics stall and expanded it into an e-commerce company with 2018 net revenues of $67 billion, was arrested on Aug. 31 but released without charge about 17 hours later. He soon returned to China and continued his executive role, as prosecutors in Minnesota investigated the rape allegation to determine if criminal charges were warranted.

In December, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman announced he was not charging Richard Liu as there were "profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Richard Liu said subsequently on Chinese social media, Weibo, that while he had broken no law, he felt "utter self-admonishment and regret" for the "enormous pain" his "actions on that day" caused his family, especially his wife, internet celebrity Zhang Zetian.

Also known as Liu Qiangdong, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison under Minnesota law if convicted of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct.

Reuters previously reported details of what happened while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a week long residency programme at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, including a description of the alleged attack and the events around it given by then-anonymous student.