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Stalemate in Beijing's first sexual-harassment lawsuit
( 2003-07-01 07:05) (China Daily)

Beijing's first sexual harassment-related lawsuit still has not produced a verdict as of Monday, after its second round of hearings at the Beijing Haidian District People's Court.

Neither of the two sides, the 25-year-old female plaintiff, Lei Man and the accused, Lei's former immediate chief, could agree to an out-of-court settlement.

The female plaintiff Lei Nan answers a reporter's questions.  
Monday's four-hour hearing was conducted in a private session at the request of the accused, 32-year-old Jiao Bin, vice-manager of the Beijing Founder Order Computer Company because of privacy concerns.

Lei brought the action against Jiao in March and requested a public apology and a compensation of 50,000 yuan (US$6,040), saying Jiao has disturbed her employment in other information industry (IT) companies after she resigned from Founder Order due to Jiao's sexual harassment.

"The chief judge has taken more evidence of mine than in the first hearing, so I am quite confident of the final victory,'' Lei told China Daily after the hearing yesterday.

Meanwhile, Jiao put forward a countersuit against Lei, saying she has damaged Jiao's reputation, and asked for a mental compensation of 5,000 yuan (US$604).

"The so-called sexual harassment allegations were totally fabricated by the plaintiff, as her evidence could not prove that the accused violated her rights (including the charges of sexual harassment and employment interference),'' said Zhao Yongxuan, the lawyer representing the accused.

Monday's court proceedings mainly focused on the exchange of evidence, as Lei's side invited a witness to testify for the first time and listed 60 pieces of evidence for the court.

The witness, who is an editor of a cultural web site affiliated Peking University, also the owner of Founder Order, proved that Jiao published a 100-character story online last October making statements about Lei's moral character.

The story also bragged about how to seduce a woman that had just graduated from university in the workplace, according to Wang Yanfeng, the witness testifying yesterday.

Furthermore, Lei also provided an email from one of Jiao's friends -- Li Peng, which stated that Jiao has in fact interfered with her search for work in Beijing and Shanghai, and even asked policemen to arrest her when she reported the case to the authorities.

"It proved that I have been under the power of Jiao's influence for a year after I gave up my job in Founder Order in October 2001,'' Lei said.

But for Jiao, Lei's widespread discussion of the lawsuit in the local news media has obviously caused a stir and illegally publicized the accused's place of work and name, according to his lawyer Zhao Yongxuan.

"Jiao is really upset over this aspect as he has been spit at and cursed by the public for these fabricated sexual harassment allegations before the court has made its final decision,'' Zhao said.

He also mentioned that relations between Jiao and his wife are greatly strained now.

But Zhao admitted that Jiao's career has not been negatively influenced by the lawsuit.

Jiao refused to be present at the trials to avoid possible confrontations with the accused, according to his lawyer.

Some psychologists have doubted Lei's psychological condition, as the plaintiff is suspectedof mixing imagination and reality. These specialists also advised the court to order a psychological assessment of Lei.

But the court has not done so up to this point. "It proved that I am normal,'' Lei said.

Lei's lawyer Li Zaike said more work needs to be done to unearth more evidence.

It is reported that the lawsuit is the fourth one related to sexual harassment in China that has gone to trial so far. In the previous two cases, the female plaintiffs lost their cases due to a lack of evidence.

The only victory achieved so far was by a female teacher in Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province early last month, who claimed her superior made improper advances. A mental compensation of 2,000 yuan (US$242) and a public apology were ordered by the local court.

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