Surveillance clips show Chinese billionaire with accuser
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for JD.com founder Richard Liu said Monday that surveillance video showing the Chinese businessman in an elevator and walking arm-in-arm with a woman who has accused him of rape provides a different account of what happened that night.
Two edited videos of Liu and his accuser were posted Monday to a Chinese social media site. An attorney for Liu also showed full, unedited surveillance videos to The Associated Press on Monday.
The law firm representing the accuser said the videos are consistent with what she told law enforcement and alleged in a lawsuit filed last week against the businessman and his company.
One of the online videos shows the pair leaving a group dinner in Minneapolis on Aug. 30, with the woman getting up to leave after Liu gets up, then following him out the door. The other video shows the woman holding onto Liu’s arm as they walk to her apartment, where she says he raped her as she begged him to stop.
Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape, but prosecutors announced in December that he would face no criminal charges because the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and it was unlikely they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The woman, Jingyao Liu, is a Chinese college student at the University of Minnesota. She alleges in her lawsuit that she was groped in Richard Liu’s limousine and raped in her apartment after a dinner at Origami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis, where she says she felt pressured to drink as Liu and other executives toasted her. At one point, Richard Liu said she would dishonor him if she did not join in, the lawsuit says.
Richard Liu and Jingyao Liu are not related. The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent, but the law firm representing the woman said she agreed to be named.
It’s not clear who posted the online videos, which were posted on Weibo under an account called Mingzhou Events. The content is edited, but Richard Liu’s attorneys in China confirmed their authenticity. The videos contain the same footage as the full surveillance videos seen by the AP. The videos do not contain audio, and they do not show what happened in Richard Liu’s limousine or in the woman’s apartment.
Jill Brisbois, Richard Liu’s attorney in Minnesota, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the clips “further dispel the misinformation and false claims that have been widely circulated and clearly support the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office decision not to file charges against our client.”
Brisbois said the videos speak for themselves and show events as they are happening. While the woman has alleged she was impaired and coerced to drink, she appears to be walking without assistance and linking her arm with the businessman.
“The way it gets described sounds so much more nefarious than it actually is,” Brisbois said of the dinner. “She’s step-in-step with him at every point.”
The lawsuit says the woman went to her apartment building with Liu to be polite and respectful, and she believed he was simply walking her to the door.
The surveillance video of Jingyao Liu’s apartment complex that was shown to the AP was unedited but packaged to show 11 different camera angles for the relevant time period.
The video shows Richard Liu and the woman walking from the car to her apartment building, and he appears to be holding her arm as they go inside. It shows them walk through multiple lobbies and taking multiple elevators. Initially, Richard Liu’s female assistant is with them and Jingyao Liu leads the way. At one point, the assistant does not get on an elevator with Richard Liu and the woman, and when they exit the elevator, she has her hand through his arm and he has his hands in his pockets.
She leads him up a short stairway, then through another set of doors and continues to link her hand through his arm. As they get off another elevator, she leads him down a hallway to an apartment. She opens the door and goes in, and Richard Liu follows.
In the video, recorded after the alleged attack in the limousine, the woman does not appear to be distressed.
The other clip that was posted online features surveillance video from the end of the dinner at Origami. It shows Jingyao Liu seated at a table with other men, and Richard Liu is a few seats away, appearing to have an animated conversation with others. One man at the dinner party is slumped over and appears to be passed out.
Jingyao Liu is seen talking to the man next to her, and when Richard Liu gets up to leave, she gets up and appears to follow. They talk as they walk out next to each other. Video from outside the restaurant shows Richard Liu initially walking ahead of the woman and his female assistant. The woman catches up with Richard Liu and he puts his jacket over her shoulders as they walk away next to each other.
The full video provided to the AP shows the woman sitting next to Richard Liu during the dinner and participating in some of the toasts, but showing no outward signs of intoxication. At one point, Liu gets up to go toward the restroom and she follows him, then they return to the table together.
Text messages previously reviewed by The Associated Press and portions of the woman’s interviews with police show the woman alleges Liu pulled her into a limousine and made advances and groped her despite her protests.
There is no known video that shows them getting into the limousine.
The lawsuit says Liu raped her at her apartment, again over her protests and resistance. She texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.”
The alleged attack happened while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong 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.
Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the doctorate program while Richard Liu was there.
Richard Liu, known in Chinese as Liu Qiangdong, is a prominent member of the Chinese tech elite, with a fortune of $7.5 billion. He is part of a generation of entrepreneurs who have created China’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone and other technology industries since the late 1990s. The son of peasants, Liu built a Beijing electronics shop into JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, selling everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables.
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