A male college professor who assaulted a female street cleaner in his community was detained and fined by the police on Saturday in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
Xi'an police released a statement on Sina Weibo saying the professor, surnamed Ge, would be detained for 10 days and face a fine of 500 yuan ($75) for beating up the worker, surnamed Liu. The worker sustained minor injuries, the statement said.
The violence drew people's attention after a Weibo user, Chapai017, posted photos on Wednesday showing Liu with blood on her face and crying.
The accompanying post said the street worker was confronted by Ge and another woman because of a garbage truck that was blocking the driveway. It said Ge was observed assaulting Liu after she scrambled to her feet from a pile of rubbish, as if she had just been knocked down. The other woman shouted, "Do you know how much I earn and how much you earn?" and "You are wasting my time," the post said.
Residents, who had begun to gather because of the noise, stopped the fight and called the police as Ge and the woman tried to leave, the post said.
The Weibo user, who claimed to have gone to the police station to make a statement, added that Ge was a newly employed professor at Shaanxi University of Science and Technology and had just completed his studies in the United States and Japan. The post said the shouting woman worked in the university's personnel division, but this was later contradicted by the university, which said she was one of Ge's relatives.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the university said Ge had been suspended and a work team had been appointed to assist the police with their investigation. The university said it would handle the case "seriously" and in line with the investigation results.
A Weibo post by the university on Thursday confirmed that the woman was not a member of the school's faculty. It also said Ge had realized the severity of his actions, that he had apologized to the street worker and her family in person and would pay her medical costs.
Ge's attack on the worker caused an uproar online. Chapai017's post alone received some 107,000 reposts and 55,000 comments.
One Weibo user commented that "one's moral standing, as well as academic performance, should factor in the assessment of a college professor".
Another wrote that the assailant should be brought to justice. "I myself come from a family at the grassroots level and I hope my family will be respected by society. And so do other families of the same background," the comment said.
However, a Weibo user named Pili_Zhang called for calm, saying criticism should not be directed at the university or its faculty:
"It was wrong for Ge to beat the cleaner, but let's leave the case to the law and the police, and stop the verbal attacks on the university and its faculty."
Li Lei contributed to this story.