A rape allegation involving Richard Liu, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, has finally come to an end. On the evening of October 1, US Central time, the lawyers of both sides issued a joint statement showing that they had reached a settlement, though neither side provided any details of the settlement. The case was originally planned to be heard on October 3 in Minnesota, USA, but this joint statement, issued on the eve of the trial, has precluded that from happening.
The joint statement said, “The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families. Today, the parties agreed to set aside their differences, and settle their legal dispute in order to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit. Beyond the above, there will be no further comment from Ms. Liu, her representatives or her counsel, nor jointly from the Parties.” In addition, the lawyer also provided a statement from Richard Liu, saying: “The four-year entanglement is finally over today! Once again, I apologize to everyone who has been troubled by this incident, especially my wife.”
The statements issued also mean that the case has been brought to an end. At the end of August 2018, Richard Liu, then CEO of JD.com, was detained on suspicion of rape in Hennepin County, Minnesota, US, and was released the next afternoon. JD.com made it clear that Richard Liu had been falsely accused. On December 21 of that same year, the local prosecutor found that there were serious problems with the evidence provided against Liu and decided not to persue sexual assault charges.
However, on April 16, 2019, Liu Jingyao, the plaintiff of the case, filed a civil lawsuit with a Minneapolis court, demanding more than $50,000 in compensation, and listed Richard Liu and JD.com as defendants. The above cases have been going on and being tried for the past three years.
A few days ago, both the plaintiff and the defendant had just completed selecting the jury. Richard Liu was present all the time, and his wife Zhang Zetian was also in the gallery. According to the original plan, the court and lawyers will also use Zoom meetings to solve some procedural problems later on.
Since the case began in 2018, Richard Liu has largely kept out of public view and in April of this year, he stepped down as CEO of JD.com. Over the last three years, Liu has withdrawn and resigned as the actual controller and senior executive of several JD.com‘s affiliated companies. In 2020, he resigned from about 230 companies and in 2021, he resigned from another 18 companies. In addition, after stepping down as CEO, Liu has cashed out more than 6.6 billion yuan ($927.5 million) by reducing his stock holdings.
Liu began to be active in the venture capital field. Public information shows that the affiliated companies of the couple Richard Liu and Zhang Zetian have invested in well-known venture capital institutions such as Miracle Plus, Gaorong Capital and Shiyu Capital in recent years.