A University of Minnesota student filed a lawsuit accusing Chinese billionaire Richard Liu of sexual assault last summer, according to a complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday.
The suit files three charges against billionaire Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, and three liability charges against his company JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce firm he founded. The charges include sexual assault, battery and false imprisonment.
In late August, the student attended a dinner in Minneapolis with Liu and other Chinese executives taking part in the Doctor of Business Administration - China program run by the University. The student was instructed to sit next to Liu at the dinner, where he encouraged her to drink alcohol in excess, according to the complaint. After the dinner, Liu allegedly raped her.
In the early hours of Aug. 31, 2018, police were called to the student’s apartment where they found Liu half-naked on the student’s bed before he was questioned and released. He was arrested later that day, according to the complaint. Liu was released 17 hours later and returned to China. On Dec. 21, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman did not charge Liu, writing in a statement that his office did not find enough evidence.
Jill Brisbois, an attorney for Liu, declined to comment on pending litigation but wrote in a statement, “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 student’s attorney is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, according to the complaint.
The University program that Liu participated in is designed to cater to top-level executives working full-time in China. The complaint states that nearly all the volunteers for the program were young and female.
The student, a volunteer for the program, was invited to the dinner by executive and program participant Charlie Yao without knowing Liu would attend, according to the complaint. Liu allegedly instructed Yao to invite the student.
She was told the dinner was to honor the program’s volunteers and accepted the invitation, but later realized she was the only volunteer invited, according to the complaint. The dinner was allegedly a “business networking event” attended by at least 15 middle-aged male executives in the program and organized and paid for by JD.com.
The complaint alleges the student, 21 years old at the time and the only female at the table, consumed alcohol during numerous toasts to the executives. She tried to avoid some of the toasts, but was told by Liu that not participating would cause him to “lose face,” according to the complaint.
The complaint goes on to allege that the student tried to arrange a ride after the dinner when she felt intoxicated but was directed to a limousine rented by JD.com.
In the vehicle, Liu “began to grope and physically force himself” on her, repeatedly trying to remove her clothes, the complaint said. She allegedly repeatedly pleaded for Liu to stop.
The vehicle arrived at a mansion near the corner of Franklin Avenue and Pillsbury Avenue in Minneapolis and an argument between Liu and the student allegedly occurred. The student said she wanted to go home before Liu then “grabbed the Plaintiff by her arm and angrily overpowered her and pushed put [sic] her back into the second row of the limousine,” the complaint read.
An employee of JD.com who was sitting in the front seat of the limousine moved the rearview mirror so the chauffeur could not watch the alleged assault take place, according to the complaint.
The limousine then drove them to the student’s apartment where Liu removed his clothing and became more sexually aggressive, according to the complaint. He allegedly forcibly removed the student’s clothing and raped her.
After the alleged rape, she messaged a friend that she had been raped. The friend called the police and met them outside her apartment where he showed them the messages he received, the suit said.
The student said in December that she planned to sue the University, but they were not named in this suit.
A University spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the University doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Minnesota Daily policy is to not name individuals who claim they have been sexually assaulted, unless given permission.