Crazy English founder Li Yang is famous for building up a multi-million yuan empire through his unorthodox oral English learning regimen that encourages students to scream and shout out phrases, but now he’s even more notorious for another reason: domestic abuse.
After almost two years of high-profile legal wrangling, Kim Lee, his American ex-wife, has been rewarded a RMB 12 million (almost USD 2 million) divorce settlement by a Beijing court. According to the China Daily:
The court confirmed Li had been violent with his wife, who is from the United States, and ordered him to pay her 50,000 yuan compensation for mental anguish and 100,000 yuan in child support per child every year, until they are 18. The court granted Lee’s request for a personal protection order, in line with the revised Civil Procedure Law, forbidding Li from threatening the 40-year-old Kim. If Li disobeys the order, he could be detained, fined or even face a criminal charge.
The decision is being hailed as not only a victory for Lee and her children, but also for victims of domestic abuse across China – paltry as it may seem, the RMB 50,000 penalty for "mental anguish" is being interpreted as an indication that Chinese courts have begun clamping down on domestic violence.
Li certainly didn’t have much public sympathy on his side as the case unfolded in the media – throughout this saga the Chinese public overwhelmingly sided with Kim Lee as she publicly displayed evidence of her physical abuse on Weibo. After months of heated denials and defensiveness, Li Yang eventually publicly apologized for the abuse but the damage to his reputation had been done. In the end it seems that public opinion in this high-profile case played a considerable role in influencing the court’s decision.
Kim Lee and her daughters certainly deserve the victory. I happened to have sat beside the three of them last year at a Disney on Ice show at the Workers Gymnasium while she was very much in the thick of her public family crisis. She didn’t know me and I didn’t want to bother her by introducing myself and bringing up the case – it seemed only right to let her enjoy the moment with her girls in peace. I hope this will continue for her and her family.