No sexual assault charges against Chinese businessman

Friday, December 21, 2018

No charges will be filed against Chinese businessman Liu Qiangdong for an alleged sexual assault, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

After a thorough investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department sex crimes unit and a meticulous review by four senior, sexual assault prosecutors, it was determined there were profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“As is the case in many sexual assault incidents, it was a complicated situation,” Freeman said. “It is also similar to other sexual assault cases with the suspect maintaining the sex was consensual. As we reviewed surveillance video, text messages, police body camera video and witness statements, it became clear that we could not meet our burden of proof and, therefore, we could not bring charges. Because we do not want to re-victimize the young woman, we will not be going into detail.”

As has been previously reported in the press, Liu, 45, was in Minneapolis as part of a program at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. On Aug. 30, he and a large number of friends and associates went to dinner at an Uptown restaurant. One of the people invited to the dinner was a 21-year-old female student.

After dinner, the woman rode with Liu and others to a home on Franklin Avenue and eventually to her apartment near the university later that evening. After several hours, in the early morning of Aug. 31, a fellow student and friend of the woman’s, called the police. Officers arrived at the woman’s apartment where they spoke to her and to Liu. Based on the information they learned from the woman that night, officers ended the call and took Liu back to his hotel. Liu was arrested later that day at the University of Minnesota.

During the review of the evidence by the prosecutors, which consisted of three men and one woman, it was discovered that portions of the evidence included conversations and messages in Mandarin that were translated to English. That evidence included video from a body camera worn by the officers that captured conversations between Liu and the woman inside her apartment, and later, portions of the conversation between the two of them after the woman asked to speak privately with Liu before he was transported back to his hotel.

The substance of those conversations, along with all of the other evidence including statements from the woman and others, as well as footage from multiple surveillance cameras, do not support criminal charges in this case.

The three months it took for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to review the case and make a decision is not unusual for a sexual assault case, especially one in which no one is in custody. It had nothing to do with Liu’s status as a wealthy, foreign businessman. Nor did the county attorney’s office consider rumors involving Liu or the victim after the investigation was complete.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Hennepin County Attorney Freeman will not be commenting further.