College student files lawsuit against the Chinese billionaire founder of, after US prosecutors declined to charge him in alleged rape (JD)

liu qiangdong mugshot

  • The billionaire founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce
    giant was arrested in Minneapolis last August after an
    accusation of rape.
  • Minnesota authorities released Richard Liu Qiangdong
    without charge the day after the arrest and declined to press
    charges in December, citing insufficient evidence.
  • His accuser, 21-year-old Liu Jingyao, revealed her
    identity for the first time in a civil lawsuit filed against the
    tech CEO on Tuesday.

  • According to Bloomberg
    , she claims Liu plied her with alcohol
    at a networking dinner, assaulted her in a limousine, and attacked
    her at her apartment.
  • In a statement to Business Insider, Liu’s lawyers
    called the lawsuit “meritless” and said they will contest it
  • Visit for more stories.

A University of Minnesota student who claims she was raped by
Richard Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire founder and CEO of Chinese
e-commerce giant, filed a lawsuit against him on

Liu Jingyao filed the civil suit four months after the local
district attorney in Minneapolis declined to launch criminal
proceedings against Liu, citing a lack of evidence.

The lawsuit accuses Richard Liu and of a total of six
counts of false imprisonment, civil assault and battery, as well as
sexual assault or battery,
Reuters reported
. It seeks at least $50,000 in damages.

The CEO and student are not related. Liu is a common Chinese

The CEO denies the claims. In a statement to Business Insider,
Jill Brisbois, Richard Liu’s personal lawyer, said: “We have not
yet reviewed the complaint and are not going to comment on pending
litigation, 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.”

Peter Walsh, the counsel for, declined to comment on
Tuesday’s lawsuit but told Business Insider in a statement that “we
will vigorously defend these meritless claims against the

Reports of the lawsuit claim the student was invited to a
high-powered networking dinner, where she was plied with alcohol,
coerced into Liu’s limousine. It says she was driven home by Liu’s
driver, and that Liu raped her in his apartment.

Minneapolis police arrested Liu over the rape accusations in
August, and released him the following afternoon. No restrictions
were placed on his travel, and he returned to China days later.

Read more: CEO plunged from 16th to 30th richest man in China after
being arrested in the US over a rape accusation

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office
announced last December that it would not press criminal charges
against Liu
, citing “profound evidentiary problems.” It said
the nature of the evidence means it is “highly unlikely” that they
could prove any charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Liu, one of China’s richest men, would have faced 30 years in
prison if found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual

Richard Qiangdong Liu

“Defendant Liu … used his superior size and strength to subdue
and rape her”

Liu Jingyao claimed in the lawsuit that in August, Richard Liu
and more than a dozen Chinese executives plied her with alcohol at
a networking dinner hours before she was attacked by the
Bloomberg reported

The student felt forced to drink as the executives toasted her,
with’s CEO saying that she would dishonour him if she did
not join in,
The Associated Press reported

She was an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, and 21
years old at the time, the reports said.

Richard Liu had been in Minneapolis for a residency as part of a
business administration program.

The student was invited to the Japanese restaurant dinner by
another executive on Richard Liu’s program whom she met at
university jogging sessions, Bloomberg reported the lawsuit as
saying. The executive did not mention that Richard Liu specifically
asked her to join the dinner, the filing said.

University of Minnesota

The student alleged in her filing that a Chinese executive
bought 32 bottles of wine with a corporate card at the
dinner, then paid for the meal with the same card, according to

The lawsuit said Richard Liu then took the student into a
limousine, and “began to grope and physically force himself upon
the plaintiff,” Bloomberg reported. The reports say he ignored her
pleas to stop.

Another woman affiliated with had been riding in the
limousine with them after the dinner, the lawsuit added, though
it’s not clear whether and when she left the vehicle.

According to the lawsuit, cited by Bloomberg, when the CEO and
the student arrived at her apartment, he took off his clothes and
lay on her bed naked. She repeatedly asked him to stop and never
consented to any sexual actions, but he ignored the actions and
overpowered her, the lawsuit said.

The court document added, according to Bloomberg: “Defendant
Liu was physically larger in size and significantly stronger than
the plaintiff and used his superior size and strength to subdue and
rape her.”

The above description
is similar to a report published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune
last November
that detailed the allegations. Liu denied those
allegations at the time, and his lawyer called the story

Tuesday’s lawsuit is the first time the complainant’s name has
been made public.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of China's e-commerce company is seen at its shop at a mall in Shanghai, China October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

Liu Jingyao added in the lawsuit, according to Bloomberg, that
she secretly sent a WeChat message to a friend to say that she had
been sexually assaulted, and that the friend called the police.

When officers arrived at the apartment to arrest Liu, the
student said she had been raped, and the CEO stared angrily at her
and said “what the hell?” in Mandarin, Bloomberg reported.

She also told officers that Richard Liu is wealthy and powerful
in China, and that she fears for her and her family’s safety for
when she returns to China in the future, the lawsuit said,
according to Bloomberg.

The arrest appears on police bodycam footage, the lawsuit said.
The footage has not been made public.

The filing names both Liu and as defendants.
According to Reuters
, the filing said is “vicariously
liable” for Liu’s actions because they took place “seemingly”
during a work function, and that his alleged misconduct took place
in front of two other employees.

Read more:
A Chinese tech billionaire has been accused of plying a student
with drink and then forcing himself on her during a trip to the

FILE PHOTO: Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company, speaks during an interview with Reuters after delivering goods for customers to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the company, in Beijing, China June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

According to the lawsuit, after the alleged attack the student
withdrew from all her classes during the fall 2018 semester to seek
professional treatment.

In a Tuesday statement cited by Reuters, Florin Roebig, one of
the law firms representing Liu Jingyao, said: “We are proud of the
incredible courage our client has shown revealing her name for all
the world to see, so that justice may be done.” 

Business Insider has contacted the Hennepin County Attorney’s
Office for comment on the lawsuit.

richard liu qiangdong zhang zetian

Liu has long fostered a reputation of being a workaholic and a
family man.

Reuters cited him as saying last January: “For my parents I want
to be a good son, for my wife a good husband, and for my daughter I
want to be a good father.”

“I hope that one day when I retire that my workers will all be
able to say: ‘He was a good guy.'”

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College student files lawsuit against the Chinese billionaire founder of, after US prosecutors declined to charge him in alleged rape (JD)