Students show support for Richard Liu’s alleged victim at Tuesday hearing

Lawyers at the Tuesday hearing discussed whether JD.com is liable for the rape Richard Liu allegedly committed.

Supporters of Liu Jingyao display signs in the Hennepin County Courthouse before a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 28.  The hearing is the second in the case against Richard Liu, a Chinese billionaire and CEO of JD.com, who has been accused of rape by Jingyao.

Emily Urfer

Supporters of Liu Jingyao display signs in the Hennepin County Courthouse before a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The hearing is the second in the case against Richard Liu, a Chinese billionaire and CEO of JD.com, who has been accused of rape by Jingyao.

Jiang Li

About a dozen Chinese supporters from across the nation gathered in Minneapolis Tuesday for the second hearing in the case of alleged rape filed by a University of Minnesota student against Chinese billionaire Richard Liu.

In 2018, University student Liu Jingyao alleged that she was raped by billionaire Richard Liu while he took part in a doctoral program at the University’s Carlson School of Management. Richard Liu is the CEO of JD.com —  a popular e-commerce company in China. He was not criminally charged for the allegation due to a lack of evidence in the case.

The supporters, including University students, wore purple accessories to show solidarity with accuser Liu Jingyao, holding boards reading “We support Jingyao” and “#METOO” and “#HEREFORJINGYAO.”

Tuesday’s hearing addressed JD.com’s motion to dismiss Liu Jingyao’s claim that the company is liable for Richard Liu’s alleged rape.

Peter Walsh, lawyer for JD.com, argued that the allegations were personal acts by Richard Liu and have no relationship with company affairs. 

Will Florin, Liu Jingyao’s lawyer, said that Richard Liu used company resources at the time of the alleged attack. In addition, he argued that JD.com should have the “foreseeability” that Richard Liu’s behavior might cause harm to others, so JD.com should bear the responsibility. Florin said he is optimistic that the judge will dismiss JD.com’s motion.

Florin also said he met with Liu Jingyao many times in the past year and witnessed how she changed from a confident young lady to a person with frequent nightmares and diagnosed with disorders.

“I believe in her and support her,” said University graduate Xiaosiqi Yang. “I don’t ever want this happen to any of my brothers and sisters. And I’ve seen how for Richard Liu in power doing this terrible thing to her, [which] is heartbreaking.”

Xiaowen Liang, a practicing lawyer in the state of New York, said she helped start the group of supporters who attended the hearing.

“I want the public to keep following the case and know that Jingyao is still working hard to defend herself,” Liang said. “I have seen many rumors and attacks on the internet, and this drives me to do something to show that there are people that support Jingyao.”

The hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 7 but was postponed to Tuesday.

After the hearing, supporters uploaded a video clip to inform people in China about the case’s updates. Within hours, the video drew a variety of comments, both attacks and praise, on social media.

Wushuang Liu, a Columbia graduate, said he has always been a feminist and was outraged both by Richard Liu’s action and the response of many people in China. 

“Supporting Jingyao is also building solidarity among us who want to right the wrong,” Wushuang Liu said. “…I think this case is a powerful tool to mobilize people and demonstrate the power of transnational solidarity among Chinese, which is why I came here today.”

The trial for the civil case is expected to be held in spring 2021.