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JD.com CEO will not face assault charges in Minnesota

(Reuters) – Minnesota prosecutors will not charge the chief executive officer of China’s JD.com Inc, Richard Liu, after he was accused of rape by a University of Minnesota student during a recent US visit, authorities said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: JD.com founder Richard Liu poses during a Reuters interview in Hong Kong, China, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said that there was a “profound evidence of problems that would be very unlikely that a criminal prosecution can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In a statement, Freeman said that after an investigation by the American police and a review by four experienced sexual violence prosecutors, it was clear that his office could not meet the burden of proof, and so could not make it to the costs.

“Because we do not want to re-victimize the young woman, we will not in detail,” Freeman said.

Liu, a 45-year-old billionaire that ensures a tight control of JD.com released without charge about 17 hours after he was arrested on Aug. 31 and quickly returned to China, where he remained until the running of the company. His representatives have maintained his innocence after the woman from China studying at the University of Minnesota accused him of rape.

JD.com shares extended gains on Friday and were up 5.8 percent after the news spread of the decision not to prosecute.

The case had attracted extreme interest in China.

Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, grew JD.com from a humble electronics stall to an e-commerce giant with 2017 net income of $55.7 billion, in cooperation with the Alphabet, Inc. ‘ s, Google, Walmart Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The decision not to bring charges is a great relief for Liu, who faced as much as 30 years in prison under Minnesota law if convicted of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct.

On Friday, Freeman said that the three months it took his office to review Lui’s case, it was not unusual for a sexual assault examination, especially one in which no one was in custody.

“It had nothing to do with Liu’s status as a rich, foreign businessman,” Freeman said in his statement.

Reuters earlier reported the details of what happened while Liu was in Minneapolis, including a description of the alleged rape and the events around it given by the now 22-year-old student.

Usually based in Beijing, Liu made the AMERICAN trip for a weeklong residency program at the University of Minnesota in the Carlson School of Management, who runs a doctor of business administration program with china’s elite Tsinghua University.

The University of Minnesota said it had no comment on Friday’s announcement by the authorities.

The decision not to prosecute followed criticism of the Us authorities, including Freeman’s office, for what some see as a failure to pursue sexual assault cases adequately.

A recent study by the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper found that only one in four sexual assault cases in Minnesota has ever referred to a county attorney, and that officers of justice to refuse the half of the cases the police. In August, Freeman called the series “a good wake-up call” and pledged to strengthen sexual abuse investigations.

Reporting by Dan Burns; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler

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