URBANA — The alleged victims of former University of Illinois Professor Gary Xu were given at least 30 more days to find him, a federal magistrate judge said Friday.
Their civil lawsuit has been held up by their inability to serve the lawsuit to Xu, despite multiple attempts to do so since it was filed Sept. 10.
“The extension will be allowed,” magistrate judge Eric Long said at a telephone hearing Friday before asking The News-Gazette to leave to discuss a sealed motion.
Two lawyers for the alleged victims — Ali Wilkinson and Ann Olivarius — called into the hearing; no one called in to represent Xu.
In the 87-page lawsuit, two of Xu’s former UI students accuse him of taking advantage of his position as head of the East Asian Languages and Cultures department from 2012 to 2015 to sexually and emotionally exploit his young Chinese students, who depended on him for their visas.
One woman accused Xu of raping and beating her multiple times from 2013 to 2015, when she was dating him as an undergraduate.
Another alleged that when she worked with Xu, he took credit for hours of translation work she did, paid her minimally for work on his art exhibits, attempted to kiss her and belittled her intelligence.
And a third plaintiff, a professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, alleged that Xu threatened his life after he publicized accusations against Xu in March 2018 on Chinese websites.
The alleged victims faced a deadline of Monday, Dec. 9, to deliver the lawsuit, so last week, they asked for an extension.
Their motion detailed the extensive efforts that have been made to find Xu, who the lawsuit said lived in the 4700 block of Horse Creek Drive in Champaign.
A week before the lawsuit was filed, a private investigator confirmed that Xu lived at his house, which is listed in the name of his ex-wife, the motion for an extension said.
“I knocked on the front door of the house,” private detective Terry J. Lowe wrote in a sworn affidavit. “Xu opened the door to greet me.”
From Sept. 18-29, someone licensed to serve lawsuits made five separate attempts to deliver the lawsuit at his house, the motion said.
“On the final try, on September 29, 2019, an Asian female, believed to be Xu’s daughter, answered the door and told Bell that Xu no longer lived at the house, and she had no forwarding address,” the motion said.
The next month, the alleged victims’ law firm, McAllister Olivarius, interviewed eight witnesses familiar with him to try to find him, according to the motion.
“Although rumors abounded about his whereabouts, including that he had fled to Philadelphia and to China, his location remains unknown,” the motion said.
A law firm Xu had previously used told McAllister Olivarius that they “had not had dealings with Xu in some time.”
Another private investigator was hired to determine whether Xu had set up a forwarding address for mail sent to his Champaign home, but “no forwarding address has been obtained,” the motion said.
The alleged victims are seeking damages and unpaid wages on 10 counts, including emotional distress, gender violence, involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking.
Xu was placed on paid administrative leave in January 2016 and resigned in August 2018.
On his way out, the UI paid Xu $10,000, according to his separation agreement.
The News-Gazette has also been unable to reach Xu for comment.