Elizabeth Holmes accuses her ex-lover, business partner of abuse – .

Elizabeth Holmes accuses her ex-lover, business partner of abuse – .

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes described herself as the abused puppet of her former lover and business partner Sunny Balwani in tearful testimony on Monday, as part of her attempt to refute accusations she lied about ‘flawed blood testing technology she hailed as a major breakthrough.

After recounting how she met Balwani while still in high school, Holmes said she eventually fell under his grip after dropping out of Stanford University in 2003 to found Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup. which she led as CEO for the next 15 years.

Crying Holmes, now 37, testified that she was raped at Stanford – a factor she said played a role in what she called subsequent enslavement to Balwani, now aged 56 years old. , a position he held from 2009 to 2016.

Even before joining Theranos, Balwani regularly berated Holmes as an inept executive who needed to ‘kill’ her old self in order to become more disciplined and focused, according to her testimony and contemporary notes with strict instructions for Holmes written in the hand by Balwani.

“He felt like I was a little girl and thought I needed to be more serious and sharp,” Holmes explained, reading Balwani’s requests. They included spending at least 30 minutes each morning writing down her daily goals and never spending more than five minutes meeting someone unless she wrote down a reason for the extra time.

If she didn’t do what Balwani said, Holmes said, he would scream and tell her he was “so disappointed with my mediocrity.”

At other times, Holmes said, Balwani likened her to a “monkey piloting a spaceship” and attempted to cut her off from her family in the alleged effort to ensure that she devoted herself full time to Theranos. She also said he was controlling her diet in an attempt to keep her “pure”. Sometimes after Balwani put her down, Holmes said, he would force her to have sex against his will to show he loved her.

The dramatic turning point came on day four of Holmes’ testimony before a jury weighing fraud charges that include scamming investors and clients while putting patients at risk by telling elaborate lies about development by the company of a supposedly revolutionary blood testing device. Holmes could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.

The 14 jurors, including two alternates, listened intently but with little visible emotion as Holmes described his relationship with Balwani.

Balwani faces fraud allegations mirroring those against Holmes in another lawsuit set to start early next year. He and Holmes ended their relationship in May 2016 after she left the Silicon Valley home they had shared for years while keeping their romantic relationship under wraps.

Federal prosecutors wanted to try Balwani alongside Holmes, but US District Judge Edward Davila separated the proceedings over the possibility that Holmes blamed some of his behavior on “intimate partner abuse.”

Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s attorney, has vehemently denied Holmes’ allegations of abuse. Although Coopersmith was present for Holmes’ testimony on Monday, Balwani could not be there as he is prohibited from being in the courtroom in the presence of Holmes.

Balwani’s portrayal of Holmes was in stark contrast to other testimony indicating that he always relied on Holmes – the subject of flattering business profiles comparing her to a female version of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, whom she has. adopted as one of its models.

Holmes briefly became a paper billionaire while promising that Theranos could provide more convenient, cheaper tests to look for hundreds of potential health issues using just a few drops of blood. Conventional tests usually require a vial of blood drawn from a vein.

His pitch helped Theranos raise nearly US $ 1 billion from sophisticated investors and attract an impressive board of directors comprising former US cabinet secretaries from presidents’ administrations from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump. The company collapsed after a series of explosive articles in the Wall Street Journal and regulatory audits revealed widespread inaccuracies in Theranos’ blood tests.

In her testimony, Holmes said most people didn’t realize how much Balwani was in control of her because most of her alleged abuse happened outside of the office. Her condemnation of Balwani contrasted with some of the disbelieving texts she sent calling him a “tiger.”

During a flurry of texts in April 2016, about a month before his romance with Balwani ended, Holmes quoted poet Maya Angelou. “In the whole world, there is no heart for me like yours. In everyone, there is no love for you like mine, ”Holmes told him.

When questioned by one of her attorneys, Holmes admitted that Balwani never told her what to say to investors whom she is now accused of cheating. She also said that Balwani had not influenced her discussions with Walgreens and Safeway, two large retailers who agreed to use Theranos’ blood testing technology before stepping down after finding out it didn’t work the way it did. ‘had promised.

Instead, Holmes says that she did all she could to clean up the problems at Theranos in an effort to achieve her ambitions. But she also said she couldn’t explain all the different ways Balwani had affected her during the years they were together.

“He wasn’t who I thought he was,” Holmes said, adding that Balwani “had an impact on everything I was and I don’t fully understand him”.

Holmes will return to the witness stand on Tuesday when prosecutors have their first chance to grill her under oath.


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