A Chinese billionaire under investigation for rape in Minneapolis forced himself on his 21-year-old victim after a large gathering at an Uptown restaurant, according to an international news agency report published online Monday.
Reuters' detailed account includes what the London-based wire service says was a posting the woman sent last month at her Minneapolis apartment through a messaging application that implicated internet retail giant Richard Liu.
"I was not willing," she wrote in Chinese on WeChat around 2 a.m. on Aug. 31, Reuters reports. "Tomorrow I will think of a way to escape," she wrote, as she begged the friend not to call police.
"He will suppress it," she wrote, referring to Liu. "You underestimate his power."
The Reuters report comes as the Hennepin County Attorney's Office weighs evidence turned over by Minneapolis police before deciding whether to file felony charges against the 45-year-old Liu, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com.
Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the county attorney's office, said Monday there was no indication when a charging decision would be made.
Liu, in the Twin Cities to attend a business doctoral program run jointly by the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and China's Tsinghua University, was booked into jail about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 31 on suspicion of rape and released less than 17 hours later.
He has since returned to China. Police have said they are confident he will return to Minnesota at their request.
Attorneys and a spokesman for Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, have consistently maintained his innocence and added that he's been cooperating with investigators.
Reuters said it also reviewed another WeChat exchange connected to the woman. Her attorney verified to the news service that the messages came from her and said she also has fully cooperated with police. Reuters said it does not know the woman's identity.
Minneapolis police said Monday they were unaware of the report and referred questions to the county attorney's office. Laszewski said his office knew that the Reuters report was coming but declined to comment.
The Reuters dispatch went on to spell out how its reporting stitched together Liu's evening from the dinner party at Origami, in the heart of Uptown, through the time when the woman said she was raped. Reuters said its sources included restaurant surveillance video and staff accounts, the woman's WeChat messages and other unspecified sources.
Two dozen at dinner party
Liu hosted the dinner on Aug. 30 for roughly two dozen people, including around 20 men, at Origami Uptown, where the wine, sake and beer was said to have flowed freely.
Later the woman told a second friend in one of the messages that she felt pressured to drink. "It was a trap," she wrote. "I was really drunk."
The gathering broke up about 9:30 p.m., and Liu and the woman headed to a house in Minneapolis that had been rented out by one of Liu's classmates in the U program.
Liu and the woman stayed in his hired car and Liu "started to touch me in the car," one of her WeChat messages read. "Then I begged him not to ... but he did not listen."
The two went to her apartment. Reuters said it "could not determine what happened over the next two hours." A police report obtained by Reuters and many other media outlets puts the time of the alleged rape about 1 a.m.
The woman reached a fellow U student, who alerted police. Officers went to her apartment, and Liu was still there. One source told Reuters that the woman declined to pursue having Liu charged.
"If it was just me, I could commit suicide immediately," she wrote in a WeChat message. "But I'm afraid that my parents will suffer."
That afternoon, she went to a hospital for a sex assault exam.
Police arrived at a university office about 9 p.m. that night. The student was present, alongside school representatives, and she accused Liu of rape.
Liu arrived at the university office about 11 p.m., and an officer handcuffed him.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482