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Former Bureau Chief Allegedly Preyed On Female Interns and Reporters

5:12 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- Only on 9 tonight, an international sex scandal that played out right here in Washington. 

It involves Phoenix Television, one of the world's largest and most popular Chinese broadcasting companies and its former Washington Bureau Chief. 

According to the complaint in a federal lawsuit, Zhengzhu Liu allegedly groped and propositioned numerous female interns and reporters. 

In our video, we agreed to conceal the identities of the alleged victims in this case. They fear not only for their current jobs, but for their family members in China. What's alleged is a pattern of sexual assault and harassment, and a company that appears to have taken years to stop it.

There is disturbing video shot on an iphone by a female reporter captures the alleged advances of Liu, the former Washington Bureau Chief of Phoenix Television.

Speaking in Mandarin, the young reporter says "Let me leave first."

Liu responds, "Let me hug you. I like you so much. Oh."

The reporter struggles throughout the video.

Liu says, "Don't move. Don't move. Oh, I like you so much."

The reporter tells him, "I'm leaving right now. I really need to go."

Liu responds, "Let me have a look. Let me 'stick' you."

The reporter makes her escape saying, "I really need to go now."

One victim told us, "Mr. Liu, in fact, is a monster."

According to the allegations in this federal lawsuit, Liu repeatedly preyed on vulnerable young women in the D.C. and New York bureaus of Phoenix Television-interns, reporters and even, job candidates.

"He threw his arms around me, and then he touched my butt, and then he tried to kiss me on the lips, but I ducked. And so he kissed my neck," said one accuser.

"He suddenly hugged me very tightly," said another.

A third woman told us, "I tried to push him away but he would like try to hug harder."

Their stories are strikingly similar.

 

"He did all that by force," the first woman said. "He was saying things like why are you so beautiful? And, you have very beautiful eyes."

The second accuser told us, independently, "He was saying you have beautiful eyes."

And the third said, "He always says that I am pretty and I know how to make myself very presentable."

Liu allegedly invited them to luxury hotel rooms and even to Atlantic City to discuss job performance and career opportunities, according to the complaint. 

"Mr. Liu, with one hand on my shoulder, and used the other hand to touch my breast," a fourth accuser said.

She says he even forced his way into her apartment after regularly talking at the office about sex acts and rape.

"I heard that he unzipped his pants. And I was very scared," she said.

"He used his power and position to get women. And very often in a very brutal way," said a male colleague. 

Another male colleague said, "She was crying in front of me. When I saw the tears, I decided to help." He added, "I never feel regret. If I chose again, I would choose to support this female victim again."

The men who stood up for their female colleagues were fired.

We asked, "Pure retaliation?" 

"Nothing but that," he responded.

The federal complaint indicates Phoenix Television knew about Liu's predatory behavior for as long as eight years, but did nothing until late last year, when Liu was removed.

We visited Liu's home in suburban Washington to attempt to get a comment from him. A Mercedes was parked in the driveway, but no one answered the door.

One day later, Liu called us from China and said we'd frightened his adult children and neighbors by stopping by. Asked about the allegation, he said, "Not true. I'm more than 60 years old. I had nothing to do with this. I have nothing to say."

One of the men fired for standing up for a female colleague said, "Especially in this country, everyone should have a freedom to work without being sexually harassed. Everyone should have a freedom to work without retaliation."

The new D.C. bureau chief at Phoenix TV declined to answer our questions as well, and called security.

According to the complaint, he is the man who fired the male employees who stood up for the women who were allegedly victimized.

Phoenix Television emailed us a statement saying the lawsuit is full of inaccuracies and false statements about the company.

So far, ten women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Written by Andrea McCarren

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