Former school bully in China sentenced to three months’ detention in defamation case

Widely viewed social media posts help victim win case against classmate who led almost a decade of abuse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 5:20pm

A man sentenced to three months behind bars in eastern China for spreading insulting rumours online about a former high school classmate is appealing against the verdict, according to a Chinese newspaper report.

Jiang Qi, 25, appeared before the Wenling People’s Court in Zhejiang province on Thursday in a defamation case brought by former classmate Wang Jingjing, also 25, the Yangtse Evening Post reported on Saturday.

Wang had suffered from verbal and physical bullying by her classmates since 2009, the report said. 

Students at Zhejiang Wenling High School made up and circulated rumours online that Wang was a prostitute and that she had falsely claimed to be extremely wealthy, according to the report.

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The bullying continued after she graduated and went to college, where her tormentors tracked her down and posted insulting comments on online forums and social media sites.

Wang sued Jiang, a ringleader of the bullying, who was sentenced to three months in police detention.

“I hope victims of campus bullying and cyber violence can protect their own interests and rights like me, and don’t let their lives be ruined by someone else’s mistakes,” Wang was quoted by China National Radio as saying.

Wang submitted 14 pages of screenshots of insulting and defamatory comments that Jiang left on social media site Zhihu, the newspaper report said.

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A key piece of evidence was a post viewed 6,278 times on Zhihu in which Jiang alleged that Wang “only charges 500 yuan (US$80) for a night”.

China’s top court and prosecutor announced in 2013 that creators of online rumours viewed by more than 5,000 people or reposted more than 500 times would be charged with defamation.

During Wang’s high school years, a fellow student slapped her in her face repeatedly as a result of the rumours, and thousands of pupils visited her classroom to find her. Wang suffered from depression and tried to kill herself several times.