Real estate firm founder gets jail time for molesting child

(      Updated : 2020-06-18

A billionaire founder of a domestic real estate firm convicted of molesting a 9-year-old girl at a five-star hotel in Shanghai was sentenced to five years of imprisonment, the longest jail term for molestation under Chinese law, by a local court on June 17.

The man Wang Zhenhua, who was then 57 when the assault happened in June last year, was then chairman of the board of Seazen, a property developer based in Shanghai and listed in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. Wang was then a member of the municipality's political advisory body.

Involving sexual assault and a juvenile, the court hearing lasting 16 hours from June 16 through June 17 was heard in a non-public manner to protect privacy at Shanghai Putuo district court.

The verdict was made based on the facts, nature, circumstances and degree of social harm of the case, the court said, without revealing details of the hearing.

Zhou Yanfen, a friend of the 9-year-old's mother, who was identified by the police to take the girl to the hotel, received a prison term of four years. Zhou told the girl's mother that she took the minor from Shanghai's neighboring Jiangsu province to the municipality to visit Disneyland, local media Xinmin Evening News reported when the case was first exposed.

The offense occurred on June 29, leaving the child with injuries to her genitalia. The girl made a phone call about the incident to her mother, who was in Jiangsu. The mother reported it to Shanghai police afterward, and Wang and Zhou were detained by police on July 3.

The case sparked public outrage, media rebukes and calls for a thorough investigation of Wang's possible involvement with other children.