BEIJING - The son of a Chinese general who went on trial Wednesday over an alleged gang rape denied having sex with the victim, reports said, in a case that sparked public outrage.

Li Tianyi is among five men who allegedly gang-raped a woman in a Beijing hotel in February, state news agency Xinhua said, the latest allegation against the privileged children of officials to provoke anger.

He “did not admit to the sexual assault and did not admit to a relationship, saying he was drunk and did not know anything” about what happened, the Beijing News said in an online posting about the trial, which is closed to the public due to his age.

The 17-year-old’s father Li Shuangjiang holds the rank of general as dean of the music department for the Chinese army’s Academy of Arts.

His mother Meng Ge, who is also a prominent singer, attended the court in Beijing on Wednesday but did not take questions from journalists when she arrived, Xinhua said.

Sina Internet news portal said in a posting on Sina Weibo, a microblogging site that is China’s equivalent of Twitter, that she became angry during the proceedings when another defendant said that her son had slapped the victim.

The family have previously argued the incident was a case of prostitution rather than rape, according to reports.

Xinhua quoted the victim’s lawyer saying that she had been hospitalised because of stress and would not take part in the hearings.

It was not clear how long the trial would last, but a posting by the official Beijing courts service on Sina Weibo said it will resume on Thursday.

Elite youths in China are commonly perceived to live extravagantly or above the law due to their connections, and the case has dominated discussion in the country’s hugely popular Internet chatrooms.

Following reported remarks by Li’s family that the alleged victim may have been a bar hostess, a top legal expert inflamed controversy when he said the woman’s profession made the act of gang-rape less harmful.

“Even if it was rape, the harm of raping a bar hostess is less than raping a woman from a good family,” Yi Yanyou, a law professor at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, said on Sina Weibo.

Li Tianyi triggered public controversy in 2011 after he and another teenager, both driving expensive cars, attacked a couple who reportedly blocked their passage, while the victims’ child looked on.

In another scandal involving the offspring of China’s wealthy elite, the son of a police chief in 2010 tried to use his father’s status to avoid any consequences for a fatal car accident.

After running over a student in the northern province of Hebei, Li Qiming shouted: “Sue me if you dare. My father is Li Gang!”

He was later sentenced to six years in prison.