Kris Wu, a Chinese Canadian pop star, was charged with rape and other crimes during a closed trial in Beijing, as China was in uproar over a video showing a group of men physically assaulting four women in another city.
Wu’s trial at the Chaoyang People’s Court on Friday was reported late Friday night by Chang’An Net, which is part of China’s powerful Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
The timing of the trial announcement was criticized by many online users. In response to the Political and Legal Affairs account, the top comment on Weibo said, “More concerned about the Tangshan matter.” It received over 22,000 likes.
The attack on four women dining at a restaurant in Tangshan, a coastal city east of Beijing, was captured on surveillance video and widely shared on Weibo. By Sunday, nine people had been arrested on suspicion of violent assault in the case.
The assault and public outrage reignited a debate in China about misogyny and mistreatment of women. Earlier this year, video emerged of a woman chained in a shack. She had been trafficked and sold as a bride, according to the police investigation.
Wu, meanwhile, had been detained by police since August of last year. The trial of a former member of the Korean boy band EXO was closed to the public to protect the victim’s privacy, according to state media.
Wu was charged with rape as well as “assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity.” Rape is punishable by imprisonment ranging from three to ten years, with life sentences and death sentences available in exceptional circumstances. Wu faces up to 5 years in prison for the second charge.
According to state media, the verdict and sentence would be issued later.
Wu was accused of having sex with a teenager while she was drunk last year. Wu denied the charge.
The teen also claimed that seven other women contacted her after Wu allegedly seduced them with promises of jobs and other opportunities. She stated that some were under the age of 18.
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