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Chinese court rules against plaintiff in #MeToo case

BEIJING – A Beijing court ruled Tuesday night against the plaintiff in a high-profile Chinese sexual harassment case, saying there was not enough evidence to back up her claims, a move that could deal a blow to the movement Chinese #MeToo.

Zhou Xiaoxuan, 28, in a series of social media posts in 2018, accused TV personality Zhu Jun of public broadcaster CCTV of groping and force kissing her in 2014 while she was working. for him as an intern, allegations which he denies.

Zhou’s accusation quickly went viral, and she sued Zhu for damages three years ago, although the first hearing in the case did not take place until December 2020 behind closed doors. Tuesday’s second hearing was also held behind closed doors.

The Haidian People’s Court said in a judgment that identified Zhou and Zhu only by their last names that the evidence submitted was “insufficient” to prove sexual harassment.

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It was not clear if Zhu was in court on Tuesday. An attorney for Zhu could not be reached.

After the court ruling, Zhou told a small group of supporters that after three years of championing her case, she felt “exhausted” and “disappointed” upon hearing the verdict. In her opinion, she said, she had not been given the opportunity to give a proper account of what had happened.

“I don’t know if I still have the courage to stick with it for another three years, so I don’t know if this time will be a goodbye.”

Later in a statement, Zhou said his team would appeal the verdict.

“We will certainly appeal, because in this case we have not looked at any of the essential facts, which is all of the surveillance footage.”

The Chinese #MeToo movement took off in 2018 when a student in Beijing publicly accused her teacher of sexual harassment. It has spread to NGOs, the media and other industries.

The discussion on #MeToo was then hushed up, but recent extensive coverage in China, without obvious censorship, of sexual assault scandals involving tech giant Alibaba and celebrity Kris Wu rekindled the matter.

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