Lawyer for JD.com founder Richard Liu blasts Reuters for ‘one-sided’ report on rape case
- Jill Brisbois reiterates Liu’s innocence and says he will remain silent out of respect for judicial process
The lawyer for JD.com founder Richard Liu Qiandong has slammed Reuters for its “one-sided” and “inaccurate” report on Liu’s rape case, calling its publication of witnesses names “reckless”.
“[Reuters] jeopardises the integrity of the investigation and amounts to trying a case in the media before that investigation has concluded, and well before my client has even been charged with a crime,” Jill Brisbois, a US-based lawyer representing Liu, said in an email response to a request for comment on the Reuters story. “In so doing, Reuters continues to report a one-sided and inaccurate version of events.”
She reiterated Liu’s innocence and said that Liu will remain silent out of respect for the judicial process.
"We stand by our story, which is consistent with our commitment to accurate and independent journalism, under the Reuters Trust Principles", Reuters said in an email response.
Liu has been accused of raping a 21-year-old student at the University of Minnesota in her home. He denies the allegations.
No charges have been filed but if charged and convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Reuters this week reported that the alleged rape in late August happened hours after the victim sat next to Liu at a dinner party he was hosting. Near the end of the event, the woman said she was drunk and needed help getting home, according to Reuters.
She was then helped into a car by a woman named Alice Zhang, who introduced herself as Liu’s assistant. Zhang tried to seat the two separately but was told by Liu not to “interrupt” him, and left them alone after.
When they arrived at the student’s building, Liu told the driver and Zhang that he would be back soon, the student told police. He ended up spending about four hours inside her apartment, showering at one point and lying naked on her bed. She said she repeatedly resisted Liu’s advances and tried to get him to leave. She told police that he eventually held her down and raped her with some of her clothes still on, according to Reuters.
Liu was arrested the next day but released after 17 hours. He returned to China on a private jet shortly thereafter, where he has maintained a low profile since. The case has dragged on without resolution, creating anxiety around JD.com. The company’s shares have plunged by more than 44 per cent this year.
JD.com did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
During a JD.com quarterly result conference call on Monday, Liu, who was present, fielded questions from analysts on his company’s performance and reiterated his focus on “strategy, culture, team and new businesses”. However, no update on the case was given. The appearance was Liu’s first public communication since the incident in August.
“We really do not have any new information to share with you,” said Sidney Huang, JD.com’s chief financial officer. “And honestly, we cannot further comment, because it is important that we respect the due process of the US justice system.”
Huang emphasised that the US case “did not and was not expected to have any material impact” on Nasdaq-listed JD.com.“Our strong senior leadership team, with most of its members having spent five to 10 years with the company, continues to effectively guide our company towards its goal to grow our business and serve our customers,” he said.