JD.com founder's unfinished story in Minnesota: updates on alleged rape

Asian Tech Press (Apr. 26) -- JD.com's billionaire founder Richard Liu Qiangdong has been accused of raping a University of Minnesota (UMN) student, and an update on the case comes after a two-year hiatus.

A public hearing on the case of UMN student Jingyao Liu v. Liu Qiangdong was scheduled for Monday afternoon local time, and the plaintiff herself may appear in court.

However, the scheduled hearing was cancelled after Liu Qiangdong's request to keep the hearing private was denied by the judge.

Attorneys for plaintiff Jingyao Liu revealed that the hearing was canceled because defense attorneys filed a motion with the court that day not to allow this hearing to be published, the Chinese billionaire withdrew the motion.

According to public court documents, the original motion by Liu's attorneys asked the judge to prohibit plaintiff's attorneys from asking some questions, including Liu's relationship with the administrative system in China, his personal financial situation, and his past sexual relationships with informed consent.

Because the hearing was held in public, Liu's attorneys ultimately decided to withdraw the motion. This means that Liu Qiangdong will answer these questions during the following cross-examination of Liu's written testimony by the plaintiff's attorneys.

Sources familiar with the matter said, it's in the evidence-gathering phase for both the plaintiff and the defendant, and Minnesota State Court in Hennepin County will issue a ruling in the coming days.

The case in which a Chinese billionaire allegedly committed sexual assault on a UMN college girl began in 2018.

On Aug. 25, 2018, Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc., traveled from China to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend a doctoral program in business administration held at UMN.

On August 30, 2018, Liu hosted a dinner party at a Japanese restaurant called Origami and invited a group of friends and colleagues, including Jingyao Liu, then 21 years old.

A surveillance clip picture showing Liu Qiangdong in an elevator and walking arm-in-arm with Jingyao Liu.

At approximately 3 a.m. the following day, Minneapolis police responded to a report of "assault in progress" involving Liu Qiangdong, but decide no crime occurred.

At 9 p.m. on August 31, 2018, the 21-year-old girl chose to call the police with the help of a university administrator. Shortly thereafter, Liu was arrested on suspicion of rape. He was released on September 1 at around 4:00 p.m.

A 2018 file photo provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office shows Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong.

On December 21, 2018, the the Hennepin County Attorney's Office in Minneapolis announced that after a thorough investigation by the local police department, it was determined that there were "profound evidentiary problems" in the rape accusation of Liu Qiangdong, and decided not to charge him with sexual assault.

In April 2019, Jingyao Liu filed a civil case against Liu Qiangdong and JD.com with the Hennepin County District Court, with charges including sexual assault, battery and false imprisonment, and seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

On April 6, 2020, Liu responded to the lawsuit and filed an answer.

On April 27, 2020, the judge denied JD.com's request to dismiss Jingyao Liu's lawsuit against the company.

Previously, on January 28, JD.com had filed a motion claiming that the alleged sexual assault was Liu's personal conduct and asking not to bear joint and several liability to the civil case.

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