Jingyao Liu filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the Chinese businessman and his e-commerce company, four months after US prosecutors declined to file criminal charges.
The University of Minnesota student alleges Liu assaulted her in her apartment and in his limousine last August, when he was a visiting scholar in a PhD program for Asian business executives.
Police initially arrested the 46-year-old and investigated the allegations, but the lead prosecutor in the case declined to file criminal charges, citing “profound evidentiary problems.”
Liu’s lawyer, Jill Brisbois, maintained the businessman’s innocence and said the lawsuit was “without merit.”
The civil complaint alleges that Liu lured the 21-year-old undergraduate to a dinner under false pretenses. The dinner was held at the end of a weeklong visit to the university and attended by many of the program participants.
The woman’s attorneys wrote that she was pressured to consume a large amount of alcohol and taken into a limousine with the executive.
In the vehicle, “Liu began to grope and physically force himself upon the plaintiff,” the complaint said, adding that the limousine driver was a witness.
The lawsuit alleges that the assault intensified once the student was taken back to her apartment, where “Liu removed all of his clothing,” became “sexually aggressive,” and “used his superior size and strength to subdue and rape” the student.
The woman texted a friend after the attack, while the businessman was still in her apartment, and police arrived and arrested him, according to the complaint.
The Hennepin County Attorney, whose are of responsibility includes Minneapolis, declined to criminally prosecute the case last December, saying that it was “a complicated situation.”
“Based on the Hennepin County Attorney’s declination to charge a case against our client and our belief in his innocence, we feel strongly that this suit is without merit and will vigorously defend against it,” Brisbois said in a statement.
In an email to The New York Times in December, Brisbois said the encounter between the married businessman and the student was “entirely consensual.”
Forbes estimates Liu’s worth at $5.5 billion, a fortune derived from his 15 percent stake in JD.com.