Richard Liu, founder and CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce website JD.com, which owns the Chinese LPL team JD Gaming, has battled sexual assault allegations since he was arrested in Minneapolis last September. A recent report from Bloomberg details what allegedly happened in late August between Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, and a University of Minnesota college student.
According to the report, events started at a party for a doctoral management program that Liu had been participating in. The joint program between the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and Beijing Tsinghua University is geared toward Chinese titans of industry. The student, a volunteer for the program, arrived at the party and was greeted by Charlie Yao, an acquaintance she had met that week. Yao, chairman of Shenzhen-based Jumbo Sheen Enterprises Group, directed her to sit next to Liu.
At the party, wine flowed freely as Liu and the other Chinese executives toasted around the table in traditional Chinese fashion. Turning down a toast is a faux pas in China, where business deals are often consummated over copious amounts of alcohol. As the student described it, she felt like she was “forced” to drink alcohol.
After the party, the student followed Liu to his limousine, where he allegedly tried to kiss and disrobe her. After her protests, Liu took her to her apartment, where he followed her inside and made several advances, including throwing her on the bed. According to the student, Liu showered at her apartment, remained naked, and refused to leave. Eventually, she said, “he threw me onto the bed” and “he held my shoulders.” Liu then proceeded to rape the student.
The Minneapolis Police Department arrested Liu the night of the alleged events and held him for 17 hours before releasing him with no charges. The department has completed its investigation and prosecutors in the Hennepin County Attorney’s office are now weighing whether to file criminal charges.
Liu returned to China soon after being released. “This version of events is filled with unsubstantiated information, from sources who clearly have an agenda,” said Jill Brisbois, Liu’s attorney. “Because of the ongoing investigation, Richard cannot defend himself in the media. We would urge everyone to wait for the prosecutor’s determination instead of continuing to present a one-sided and inaccurate narrative. When all of the relevant evidence is disclosed, Richard’s innocence and the full story will become apparent.”
In the months since the initial arrest, ongoing reports on the alleged assault have caused JD.com’s stock to decline sharply. Liu not only has voting control of the company, but he’s a visionary founder who laid out the company’s path. Being prosecuted in the U.S. could have a big impact on the operations of the company, which could extend down to the League team.