Chinese billionaire Richard Liu (劉強東) would not face charges over a rape accusation by a Chinese woman studying in Minnesota, as prosecutors on Friday said they could not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested on Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape and released within hours.
He returned to China.
Prosecutors said that “profound evidentiary problems” would have made it “highly unlikely” that any charge could have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
As prosecutors reviewed 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 in a statement.
After the prosecutor’s decision was announced, Liu issued a statement on his Chinese social media account saying: “This proves I broke no law.”
“My interactions with this woman, however, have hurt my family greatly, especially my wife. I feel deep regret and remorse and I hope she can accept my sincere apology. I will continue to try in every possible way to repair the impact on my family and to fulfill my responsibility as a husband,” Liu said in the statement, which JD.com shared in a translation he provided.
He said he did not respond to comments on the Internet while the investigation was ongoing to avoid interfering with police and prosecutors.
Liu was in Minneapolis in August for a week-long residency as part of the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program.
The four-year program in the university’s management school is geared toward high-level executives in China and is a partnership with Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.
Jill Brisbois, an attorney for Liu, welcomed the prosecutor’s decision.
“This confirms our strong belief from the very beginning that my client is innocent,” Brisbois said in a statement.
Liu was arrested “based on a false claim” and that the investigation, “with which he fully cooperated,” vindicates him, Brisbois said.
“Even though the prosecutor determined no criminal charges were warranted, Mr Liu’s reputation has been damaged like anyone falsely accused of a crime,” he said.
Wil Florin, an attorney for the woman, said that prosecutors never spoke to her before deciding not to charge Liu.
Prosecutors never asked to meet with the woman, a Chinese citizen studying at the University of Minnesota on a student visa, and never asked her a question, he said.
“Instead, they waited four months until late Friday before the Christmas holiday and issued a press release without even giving her the common courtesy of a meeting to advise her of their intentions,” Florin said.
However, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said that police had spoken with the woman “a number of times.”
Florin later said the woman is planning to sue.
Florin in a statement said that a civil jury should determine whether Liu, JD.com and their representatives “should be held accountable for the events of that night. We look forward to that jury hearing the full and complete story.”
He would not give details of the planned lawsuit, but told reporters that it would be in the US.
The woman has not been publicly identified.
She is still enrolled at the university, Florin said.
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