Canadian singer Kris Wu sentenced to prison for rape in China

Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian pop singer who was once one of China’s most popular entertainers, was found guilty of rape by a Beijing court and sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday, becoming one of the most in view of the country to be punished. for the #MeToo allegations.

In a statement on social media, Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing said Mr Wu was found guilty of taking advantage of three drunken women and forcibly having sex with them at his home. in 2020. He was also found guilty of “gathering a crowd to engage”. in promiscuous activities,” the court said.

Before his arrest in 2021, Mr. Wu, known in China as Wu Yifan, was a superstar with tens of millions of social media followers. Born in China and raised partly in Canada, he rose to fame as a member of Korean pop group EXO before embarking on a successful solo career as a model, singer and actor. He has endorsement deals with more than a dozen leading national and international brands, including Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Porsche.

But his career fell apart when he was accused by an 18-year-old university student of luring young women like her to his house to discuss potential career opportunities, then doused them with alcohol before leaving. push them to have sex. The accuser, Du Meizhu, said she believed Mr. Wu had done this to other young women.

Initially, police’s preliminary findings into her allegations said she acted out her story “to enhance her online popularity”, sparking outrage from her supporters and drawing accusations that authorities were shaming a victim.

This has helped amplify Ms Du’s allegations, creating a rare outpouring of support in a country where women are often discouraged from filing sexual misconduct complaints, and victims of sexual assault and harassment are frequently targeted for abuse. online and even sued for defamation.

“That day has finally come,” Ms. Du wrote on the country’s popular Weibo social media platform after the jail sentence was announced. “I am very grateful to the Chinese judicial system which spares no criminal, even if he is a big star,” she added later.

After Mr Wu was detained last year, propaganda outlets for China’s ruling Communist Party hailed the arrest as a lesson to celebrities that fame will not shield them from justice.

In its statement, the court said he would also be deported. Officials from the Canadian embassy in China attended the sentencing hearing, the court heard. Mr. Wu, who had denied the allegations when they surfaced, has the right to appeal his conviction and his 13-year prison sentence. Mr. Wu’s attorney could not be reached immediately.

In a separate announcement, the Chinese government said it would seek 600 million yuan, or about $83 million, from Mr. Wu for tax evasion, late fees and fines, according to Xinhua, a state-run news agency.

Supporters of China’s nascent #MeToo movement said the sentence, if upheld, would serve as a warning to perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

“It will also encourage some women to have the courage to come forward to defend their rights in an environment where victims are often shamed and humiliated,” said Huang Simin, a mainland-based human rights lawyer who has worked on cases. related to gender-based violence. .

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