Former University of Illinois professor Xu Gang sued over alleged rape and other sex crimes

4 days ago
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Three people have filed a lawsuit against disgraced Chinese curator Xú Gāng 徐钢, the former professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), who was accused of sexual misconduct stretching back decades in a series of damning revelations that came to light last year.

In a lawsuit filed on September 10 in Illinois, Xingjian Sun, Xing Zhao, and Ao Wang accused Xu of engaging in “a pattern of sexual abuse and labor trafficking of Chinese students” when he served as head of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at the university.

According to the complaint published by law firm McAllister Olivarius on its website, before Xu resigned in 2018 in the wake of sex scandals, he abused his power and authority over the course of many years during his teaching career.

The complaint states:

“He raped multiple students, had sexual relationships with many others, and tried to sexually exploit even more. He physically assaulted women. He played brutal mind games, pitting his students against each other and against other professors, achieving pleasure out of the debris he left in his wake. He earned hundreds of thousands of dollars off the work that his students did for him, while paying them nothing. He let his teaching duties slide, showing up unprepared and distracted, quick to anger when anyone questioned him. He caused many of his students to leave UIUC early, abandoning degree programs and irrevocably changing their career paths, because his predatory conduct became unbearable. He created an environment where his students, particularly the young Chinese women who made up the majority of his students, were afraid to question, afraid to report, afraid to do anything that might jeopardize their position with him.”

One woman, Sun, claims that during her time at UIUC from 2012 to 2016 as a 19-year-old student, Xu, then 45, forced her into a sexual and abusive relationship, where Xu allegedly raped her, tried to pimp her out to Chinese artists for commercial gain, and compelled her to arrange a threesome for him with another student while she was pregnant with his child. While she filed reports with UIUC in an attempt to “stop the cycle of violence,” the school authorities

took no meaningful action other than to send Xu a letter telling him to keep his distance from Sun.

A second plaintiff, Zhao, who was one of Xu’s students from 2013 to 2015, accuses Xu of sexually harassing her on numerous occasions and exploiting her labor without giving her adequate credit.

Meanwhile, Wang, a Chinese professor at Wesleyan University, who wrote a viral Douban post that brought Xu’s predatory behavior to the forefront of public attention in 2018, is the third plaintiff. As someone who has been aware of Xu’s bad reputation as a sexual predator for years, Wang claims that Xu threatened to sue and kill him after his post encouraged a number of alleged victims of Xu’s sexual abuse to speak up.

The action says the plaintiffs are seeking redress for Xu’s “sexual, physical, emotional, and professional abuse in an amount to be determined at trial.” On Douban, Wang said (in Chinese) that the three plaintiffs were planning to file another complaint against UIUC for its handling of alleged sexual abuse committed by Xu in a week.

Xu was one of the higher-profile figures accused of sexual misconduct amid the belated but fast spread of China’s #MeToo movement. Since the beginning of 2018, the movement has witnessed a number of powerful men in academic circles facing consequences for their predatory actions, such as professor Chén Xiǎowǔ 陈小武 at Beihang University and professor Shěn Yáng 沈阳 at Peking University.

Read the 87-page complaint here.

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