A billionaire real estate tycoon has been sentenced to only five years in prison for child molestation in a ruling that has sparked outrage across Chinese social media.
Wang Zhenhua (王振华), 58, was detained a year ago for what he did to a nine-year-old girl inside a five-star hotel room in Shanghai on June 29.
The girl and her older sister were brought from their hometown in Jiangsu to Wang’s hotel room by her mother’s friend, Zhou Yanfen. Zhou reportedly told the girls’ mom that she was taking the kids to Shanghai Disneyland.
When her daughter came back and told her what had happened, the mother called the police who arrested both Wang and Zhou.
Reportedly, Wang had paid Zhou 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to bring the children. The nine-year-old girl suffered lacerations to her vagina.
Following a two-day closed hearing, a court in Shanghai’s Putuo district sentenced Wang to five years in prison for “molestation” after determining that there was no sexual organ contact and therefore the crime could not be classified as rape.
At the trial, Wang denied molesting the girl. Zhou, meanwhile, was given a four-year prison sentence for her role.
Five years is the maximum sentence for molestation under Chinese law, however, many Chinese netizens feel it is not nearly severe enough punishment to fit the crime.
“Vaginal lacerations are sexual, how could this not be rape? Five years is too light, this crime is truly frightening,” wrote one Weibo user.
“The laws are made for the poor. The rich are above the law,” wrote another.
Wang Zhenhua is the former chairman of Seazen Holdings, one of China’s largest real-estate developers.
While he was removed from his post after being arrested (and replaced with his son), Wang remains Seazen’s majority shareholder. His family’s wealth is still estimated at nearly $6 billion.