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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Chinese court sentences Canadian singer to prison for rape



Crime

Before his arrest over #MeToo allegations, Kris Wu was one of China’s most popular entertainers, with legions of fans and brand deals.

A fashion magazine showing Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu, center, on display for sale on a bookshelves at a convenience store in Beijing on July 20, 2021. He has become arguably the most prominent figure in China to face punishment over #MeToo allegations. The Associated Press

Kris Wu, a Canadian Chinese 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 Friday, becoming one of the most prominent figures in the country to be punished for #MeToo allegations.

In a statement on social media, the Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing said Wu was convicted 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, Wu, who is known in China as Wu Yifan, was a superstar with tens of millions of followers on social media. Born in China and raised partly in Canada, he rose to fame as a member of the Korean pop band EXO before establishing a successful solo career as a model, singer and actor. He had endorsement deals with more than a dozen prominent domestic and international brands, including Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Porsche.

But his career came crashing down when he was accused by an 18-year-old university student of enticing young women such as herself to his home to discuss potential career opportunities and then plying them with alcohol before pressuring them for sex. The accuser, Du Meizhu, said she believed that Wu had done this to other young women.

Initially, the police’s preliminary findings of her allegations said she had played up her story “to enhance her online popularity,” sparking outrage by her supporters and drawing accusations that authorities were shaming a victim.

This helped to amplify Du’s allegations, building a rare groundswell of support in a country where women are often discouraged from coming forward with complaints of sexual misconduct, and where victims of sexual assault and harassment are frequently targeted for online abuse and even sued for defamation.

“This day has finally arrived,” Du wrote on the country’s popular Weibo social media platform after the prison sentence was announced. “I am very grateful for China’s legal system that does not spare any criminals, even if he is a big star,” she later added.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.



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