(Bloomberg) -- Chinese billionaire Richard Liu was sued by the University of Minnesota undergraduate student who accused him of raping her, placing the chief executive officer of e-commerce giant JD.com back in the spotlight almost four months after prosecutors decided not to press criminal charges.
The 21-year-old student, Jingyao Liu, alleged that the rape occurred in August while Liu was attending a doctor of business administration program at the university. She claims he forcibly assaulted her in her apartment after plying her with alcohol at a business networking dinner with more than a dozen Chinese male executives, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in Hennepin County court in Minnesota.
“We have not yet reviewed the complaint and are not going to comment on pending litigation,” Jill Brisbois, an attorney for Liu, said in an email. “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.”
The accusations have hung over JD.com’s stock since they were made public in September. Liu’s outsize control of voting rights closely linked the firm’s fate to his own. In China, he’s seen as a visionary founder and the driving force behind one of the country’s most successful internet companies. Bloomberg reported this month that JD.com Inc. is preparing deep cuts to its workforce and rescinding some job offers as the Chinese e-commerce giant struggles to revive dwindling morale and rein in losses.
JD.com Founder’s Rape Accuser Says She Was Lured to Liu Dinner
The local prosecutor who declined to charge Liu said in December he made his decision after reviewing surveillance video, text messages, police body camera video and witness statements.
“It became clear that we could not meet our burden of proof and, therefore, we could not bring charges,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the time.
Jingyao Liu is seeking “significant compensatory damages” and will also pursue punitive damages against both Liu and JD.com, according to a statement issued by her attorneys.
The case is Jingyao Liu v. Richard Liu, 27-cv-19-5911, District Court, Fourth Judicial District, County of Hennepin, Minnesota
(Updates with Liu attorney’s comment in third paragraph.)
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