Alibaba sexual assault case dropped as China police say ‘forcible indecency’ not a crime

Prosecutors in porcelana have dropped a case against an Alibaba manager accused of sexually assaulting an employee, saying he committed “forcible indecency” but that it did not constitute a crime.

In August a female employee of the e-commerce giant posted a lengthy statement accusing a manager of raping her during a business trip, and claiming that management at the company did not take her complaint seriously. Alibaba pledged to cooperate with a police investigation, fired the manager, and suspended other employees.

However on Monday evening the People’s Procuratorate of Huaiyin District in Jinan City said that after reviewing the case it had decided not to approve the arrest. It said the investigation had determined the man had committed forcible indecency – a term which includes sexual assault – but that it did not constitute a crime, and the investigation was terminated.

He was instead ordered to be detained for 15 dias, in accordance with article 44 of the administrative Public Security Management Punishment Law. Article 44 stipulates 15 days detention as the maximum punishment for a person who molests another or intentionally exposes themselves, “with other serious circumstances”.

On Tuesday morning the man’s wife reportedly posted on Weibo that he was “released at dawn”.

En una oracion, Alibaba said the facts of the case had been “clarified” and the judicial process concluded. It said the incident and process had deeply affected Alibaba and its employees.

“We will use this as a lesson to continuously improve and perfect ourselves. The growth and development of the company will not be smooth sailing. Only by adhering to ideals and beliefs and surpassing temporary bumps can we better move towards the future. We always believe in the power of justice and in goodwill.”

The case had reignited a national debate over China’s #MeToo record, which has also seen other high profile cases against prominent men and highlighted the difficulties in women seeking justice.

On Twitter, Human Rights Watch China researcher, Yaqiu Wang, said it was “another case of online #MeToo furore failing to turn into real-life accountability”.

On Chinese social media, hashtags related to the dropped Alibaba case were viewed tens of millions of times, and drew heated debates. Some comments attacked the complainant, while others targeted the man’s wife for speaking in support of her husband. Much of the response lamented an apparent lack of accountability in China.

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