JD.com founder and billionaire Liu settles U.S. rape civil suit

Richard Liu, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, will step down from his role as CEO. His departure comes after several high-profile tech founders left their leadership positions amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on its domestic tech sector.

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Billionaire Richard Liu, founder of one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, JD.com, has settled a civil lawsuit filed by former University of Michigan student Liu Jingyao, who accused him of violation

The lawsuit was part of a long legal battle between Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao, who in 2018 was a 21-year-old student when she said Richard Liu raped her after a night of dinner and drinks.

A statement from the parties to the lawsuit, and provided to Reuters by JD.com, said: “The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed a public substantial and has caused profound suffering to the parties and their families”.

He went on to confirm that the case, which began jury selection proceedings in a Minnesota court last week, has been settled, but did not disclose the terms of the settlement.

JD.com declined to comment further on the case, while lawyers for Richard Liu and Liu Jingyao did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Richard Liu is a high-profile billionaire in China who founded and until earlier this year was chief executive of JD.com. He handed over the CEO reins to Xu Lei in April.

Liu Jingyao filed the civil suit in April 2019, four months after prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Richard Liu.

The case greatly affected Liu’s reputation in China and tightened his grip on the e-commerce giant. In 2019, he resigned from the advisory body of China’s parliament, citing “personal reasons”.

The case had also galvanized many women in China, where for years issues such as sexual harassment and assault were rarely raised in public until the #MeToo movement took root in 2018, though since then ‘has faced online censorship and official rejection.

Liu Jingyao’s supporters on Chinese social media called the deal a victory for China’s #MeToo movement.

News of the settlement quickly started trending on Chinese social media on Sunday, with more than 110 million people reading news about the issue.

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