Private life of party chief kept out of court
Bill Savadove in Shanghai
Chen Liangyu won't face trial for 'trading in power and sex'
The sordid yet titillating details of Chen Liangyu's private life have aroused public interest across the mainland, although the disgraced leader will never face trial for what the Communist Party called 'trading in power and sex'.
After Chen was cast out of the party, the usually reserved state media accused him of trading political favours for sex, being morally degenerate and using his power to philander.
Chen's womanising was rumoured long before he was ousted for corruption, but it did not impede his political climb. Allegations of this type typically surface only after a leader falls from grace as part of a moral smear campaign against the disgraced official.
Between 1991 and 2006, Chen maintained 'improper' relationships with at least two women over extended periods, according to an official report quoted by Caijing magazine. One became pregnant, and he forced her to have abortions three times.
He also had relationships with several other women during the period. 'He used his official power to assist these women and members of their families with work appointments and opportunities to make money,' the magazine reported.
In the absence of official information, underground books and internet postings have spread the alleged details of Chen's 'degeneracy', claiming he had kept at least 10 mistresses over the years.
Shortly after Chen was detained in September 2006, supermodel Ma Yanli came forward and denied any relationship with him.
'If any friends have the source or evidence of the rumour-mongers, please collect it and give it to us,' she wrote on her blog, effectively denying rumours that Chen had helped the Henan native obtain a Shanghai residence permit and a flat.
Three other women who were linked to Chen included a university administrator, a finance official and a Communist Youth League official.
In one of the earliest publicised cases of politicians trading favours for sex, which went to trial in 2002, Zhang Erjiang , the former party secretary of Tianmen , Hubei province , had sex with 15 female officials and awarded seven of them and two of their husbands with promotions.
Academics debate over whether the government and party should be involved in private affairs. But party rules issued in 1997 ban officials from keeping 'second wives', paying mistresses or buying sexual services.
Using public money to support mistresses is illegal.
In the end, the charges against Chen included accepting bribes, abuse of power and dereliction of duty. The legally murky accusations about his private life were not raised in court.