A Chinese court has sentenced a man to 18 years in prison for sexually assaulting an Alibaba Group employee while on a work trip.
The court found Zhang Guo, a customer of the Chinese e-commerce platform, guilty of intoxicating the woman, whose surname is Zhou, with alcohol and then forcibly imposing herself during a business dinner in July 2021.
The Jinan Huaiyin District People’s Court found him “guilty of forcible indecency, sexually assaulting the victim against her will while she was drunk”, state media Global Times reported.
He first committed the crime in a restaurant and again the next day in the woman’s hotel room.
According to reports, the woman was later fired by Alibaba after going public with her allegations.
Guo, who has been in detention for nearly a year, has about eight months to serve his sentence.
The verdict is significant given that the majority of sexual assault cases do not make it to court in China, with a dismal conviction rate.
Although many expressed sympathy for the victim, she was also criticized on social media for getting drunk. The drinking culture in the country’s offices and Alibaba’s handling of the matter were also condemned.
The woman first made her ordeal public by sharing an 11-page document chronicling the incident. She alleged her manager raped her in a hotel room while she was unconscious after a ‘drunken night’ last summer.
The incident sparked rage on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, with many demanding actions against the Alibaba Group.
The public backlash forced Alibaba to fire his colleague, while the two executives who did not act on the allegation also resigned.
A memo was posted saying that Alibaba was “firmly opposed to the culture of forced consumption”.
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 2:21pm on Sunday July 3rd, 2022