Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testifies she was abused by ex-partner

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Elizabeth Holmes leaves after a hearing in a federal courtroom on July 17, 2019 in San Jose, Calif.Stephen Lam/Reuters

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testified Monday that she was abused by her former romantic partner and Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani and that the relationship had a huge impact on her life during the time she was accused of cheating. was alleged.

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During her fourth day on the stand, Holmes, 37, occasionally succumbed to her decade-long relationship with Balwani, Theranos’ chief operating officer, whom she met when she was 18. And he was 38 years old.

Throughout the relationship, Holmes said, Balwani forced her to have sex when she didn’t want to, and was verbally abusive.

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Balwani has “categorically” denied the allegations in court filings, calling them “false and provocative”. A lawyer for Balwani did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes denies misleading attempt on Pfizer partnership

Elizabeth Holmes defends beliefs in Theranos technology in her fraud trial

Both Holmes and Balwani have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for allegedly lying about the now-defunct startup’s technology that supposedly offered more clinical trials than traditional laboratory testing. Can run quickly and accurately.

Prosecutors say Holmes turned to fraud after pharmaceutical companies lost interest in Theranos technology. Her lawyers portrayed Holmes as a young, hardworking entrepreneur whose company failed, and, they suggested Monday, relied on Balwani, to her detriment.

Holmes previously testified that he left Stanford University at the age of 19 to focus on building Theranos. On Monday, she explained that she left partly because she was raped at Stanford.

At the time, she decided to focus on building her own company, and grew closer with Balwani, whom she saw as a successful businessman who had worked with Bill Gates.

“He said I was safe, now that I met him,” she said.

But, at home they shared and in texts, Balwani told her that she would never be successful if she “gets old” by following an intense regime including waking up at 4 a.m., eating certain foods, and remaining laser-focused on her goals. doesn’t kill Elizabeth”, she said.

Theranos, once worth US$9 billion, propelled Holmes to Silicon Valley stardom. Theranos collapsed after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles starting in 2015 that suggested its tools were flawed and inaccurate. He was charged in 2018.

Holmes testified last week that Balwani prepared financial projections that were shared with investors. Holmes talked about their personal relationship for about an hour on Monday.

Holmes said she was not claiming that Balwani controlled her statements to investors, journalists or business partners. But he said he didn’t question her like he should, because it “taught her everything I thought I knew about business.”

“They affected everything about me. And I don’t fully understand it,” she said.

Holmes testified that a negative report from a health care regulator in 2016 shook her positive view of Theranos, and prompted her to make changes that Balvani did not like. They broke up that year, she said.

Since the trial began in September, jurors in San Jose have heard evidence that prosecutors say Holmes defrauded investors and patients between 2010 and 2015, when Theranos commercialized its trials. , including a partnership with Walgreens.

At the end of his direct testimony, Holmes’ attorney, Kevin Downey, asked why he had not sold any of his 50 percent stake in Theranos, which was valued at US$4.5 billion, despite opportunities to do so.

“I believed in the company and wanted to put my all in it,” she said.

Holmes will face cross-examination by a prosecutor on Tuesday morning when the trial resumes.

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