A partner at a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley has resigned from his position, days after a lurid lawsuit was filed accusing him of sexually abusing a woman, then refusing to pay her a promised $40 million in compensation. Michael Lewis Goguen said the suit had nothing to do with his work at the firm, Sequoia Capital, but stemmed from a relationship gone sour.
The complaint, which was filed Friday in state court in California, and which you can read in full here, was filed by a woman named Amber Laurel Baptiste, suing Goguen and 100 other unnamed people (referred to as Does 1-100, as in Jane/Jim Doe). It accuses Goguen of “years of sexual abuse,” “long term physical damage” and emotional trauma.
Baptiste’s complaint says she is a human trafficking survivor who was introduced to Goguen in 2001 at a strip club in Texas where she was a dancer; it also says she was under his “control” for the next 12 years. The suit goes into minute detail about the nature of the alleged abuse:
Ms. Baptiste submitted to Mr. Goguen’s constant sexual abuse, relying on his promise that he would help her break free of the human traffickers who held her in perpetual debt. Ms. Baptiste has suffered countless hours of forced sodomy, verbal abuse, demeaning rituals requiring her to beg Mr. Goguen to masturbate on her, and Mr. Goguen’s routine demands that she use alcohol and other unknown drugs to render her more pliable to his lewd requests.
The suit also says that Baptiste discovered in 2011 that Goguen infected her with “several high-risk strains” of HPV, and that in 2012 she underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured anal canal “after Mr. Goguen forcibly sodomized her and left her bleeding and alone on the floor of a hotel room in a foreign country.”
The suit also says that Goguen signed a contract in mid-2012 to pay Baptiste $40 million “as compensation for the horrors she suffered at his hands,” but after paying $10 million “refused to honor the rest of his agreement.” The suit accuses Goguen of breach of contract and asks for unspecified damages.
Reuters reported Monday afternoon that Goguen has voluntarily resigned from Sequoia, saying he intends to focus on clearing his name. Sequoia also issued a statement, a portion of which they also posted to Twitter:
Goguen hasn’t yet filed an answer to the suit.
Update, 5:30 p.m.: Goguen has filed a cross-complaint to the lawsuit, which a law firm representing him sent to Jezebel. He is suing her for extortion, breach of contract, and has filed for a civil restraining order. The countersuit says that Baptiste is engaged in a “shakedown” of Goguen for millions of dollars in “hush money” and says she falsely re-wrote the history of their relationship:
Ms. Baptiste fabricated a tale that rewrote the history of a kind and mutually lovingrelationship in the most opposite, horrible, and defamatory ways her angry imagination couldconceive—with allegations of rape (forcible sodomy that almost killed her); decade-long sexual,physical and emotional abuse; that she was “rented” to Mr. Goguen by sex slave traffickers; thatshe was starved and beaten by Mr. Goguen; that each encounter with Mr. Goguen was filled withdisgusting perversions; that she was a “teenager” when Mr. Goguen and she first met; and that Mr.Goguen intentionally infected her with a sexually transmitted disease. None of that is true, asdocumented unambiguously and consistently in the evidence of Ms. Baptiste’s own words in herthousands of texts and emails sent to Mr. Goguen since they met in March of 2002 until theextortionate threats were made in early 2014.
Far from being a victim of any sort of abuse ormistreatment of any kind, Ms. Baptiste fell deeply in love with Mr. Goguen directly because of hiskind, caring, and compassionate treatment of her at every moment of their relationship. Ms.Baptiste ultimately wanted him to choose her as his life partner and father of her children.
The cross-complaint features excerpts of affectionate emails Baptiste sent to Goguen (calling him things like “Prince Charming” and “my sweet, sweet sunshine”) and says he was unaware of the anal injury for a time, because it was so minor:
[T]he supposed anal tear was so minor that Mr. Goguen was unawareof it until Ms. Baptiste emailed him after the fact gushing about how wonderful the night was andnoting that she was scheduled to have a “small surgery” that was “not a big deal.”
The complaint also calls Baptiste’s accusations “outrageous and malicious,” adding, “Enough is enough. Mr. Goguen is no longer willing to accede to Ms. Baptiste’sthreats, whatever the consequences.”
The full cross-complaint is below.
Michael Goguen. Screenshot via YouTube/Wharton School