(This story was corrected on October 2 to fix the name of the university in the first paragraph of the University of Minnesota, from the University of Michigan)
by Casey Hall
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Billionaire Richard Liu, founder of one of China’s largest e-commerce platform JD (NASDAQ:). com, settled a civil lawsuit brought by former University of Minnesota student Liu Jingyao, who accused him of rape.
The lawsuit was part of a long-running legal battle between Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao, who was a 21-year-old student in 2018 when she said Richard Liu raped her after an evening of dinner and drinks.
A statement from the parties to the lawsuit, provided by JD.com to Reuters, said the incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 led to a misunderstanding that captured significant public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families.
She went on to confirm that the case, which began last week with jury selection proceedings in a Minnesota court, has been settled, but did not disclose the terms of the settlement.
JD.com declined to comment further on the case, while attorneys for Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Richard Liu is a prominent billionaire in China who founded and until earlier this year was the CEO of JD.com. The CEO handed the reins over to Xu Lei in April.
Liu Jingyao filed the civil lawsuit in April 2019, four months after prosecutors refused to file criminal charges against Richard Liu.
The case severely affected Liu’s reputation in China and imposed scrutiny on his control of the e-commerce giant. In 2019, he resigned from the Chinese parliament’s advisory body, citing “personal reasons”.
The case also sparked a catalyst for many women in China, where issues such as sexual harassment and sexual assault were rarely touched upon for the years until the #MeToo movement took hold in 2018, though it has faced online censorship and official opposition since then.
Supporters of Liu Jingyao on Chinese social media described the settlement as a victory for the #MeToo movement in China.
News of the settlement started trending fast on Chinese social media on Sunday, with more than 110 million people reading the news about it.