A settlement between a Chinese billionaire and the former University of Minnesota student he was accused of raping has been reached just two days before the case was due to go to trial.
A joint statement issued on behalf of JD.com owner Richard Liu and former U of M student Jingyao Liu stated that the pair had agreed to "set aside their differences, and settle their legal dispute in order to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit."
The statement says the 2018 incident "resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families."
The details of the settlement have not been disclosed. According to the Bloomberg Index, Richard Liu is worth an estimated $12 billion due to his ownership of the China-based online retailer JD.com.
Jingyao Liu, who is not related to Richard Liu, was a 21-year-old student at the University of Minnesota when the alleged rape happened.
She accused Liu of forcing himself upon her in a car, then sexually assaulting her at her apartment after they had dined as part of a larger group at Origami in Uptown in August 2018.
Richard Liu – known more commonly as Liu Qiangdong in China – had claimed their engagement was consensual. While county prosecutors declined to prosecute, claiming they would be unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, Jingyao Liu sued.
The BBC reports that the case was of huge interest in China, with Jingyao Liu thrust into the spotlight as a prominent figure in China's burgeoning #metoo movement, and the civil trial was set to give the Chinese public a rare glimpse into a high-profile case given it was set to play out in a U.S. court.
Reached by the New York Times by text message after the settlement was announced, Jingyao Liu said: "I'm okay. I didn’t make it to the end but that was all I could do."