A federal jury has found in favor of a former University of Illinois professor in a lawsuit two women filed accusing him of sexually and emotionally exploiting them when they were his students.
The jury in Urbana decided in Thursday’s verdict that the two plaintiffs had not proven their federal claims of gender violence, forced labor, sex trafficking and involuntary servitude against Gary Xu.
The jurors also ordered one of the women and another plaintiff, who published online allegations of Xu’s alleged misdeeds, to pay Xu a total of $800,000 in damages, The News-Gazette reported.
The suit filed in 2019 accused Xu, who had been an associate professor on Asian cultures at the University of Illinois, of sexually and emotionally exploiting his Chinese students, who depended on him for their visas.
Attorney Jon Little represents one of the plaintiffs, a 28-year-old Chinese woman who alleged that Xu raped, beat and controlled her during a two-year relationship that began when she was a 19-year-old undergraduate student. He said the jury’s verdict “sends the wrong message.”
“We have emboldened a man who was having sex with a student,” Little said.
Xu, who never admitted a consensual sexual relationship with the woman and denied all the lawsuit’s allegations, wept and hugged his attorney, Jim Martinkus, after the verdict.
“The jury has spoken. We’re very grateful,” Martinkus said.