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

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


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

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes said Monday that she was abused by her former romantic partner and Theranos director Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, and that the relationship had a pervasive impact on her life at a time when she was accused of fraud.

On her fourth day at the helm, Holmes, 37, occasionally choked on her ten-year relationship with Balwani, COO of Theranos, whom she met when she was 18. years old and him 38 years old.

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

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

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Holmes and Balwani have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for allegedly lying about the technology of the now-defunct startup that is said to run diagnostic tests faster and more accurately than traditional lab tests.

Prosecutors say Holmes turned to fraud after drug companies lost interest in Theranos technology. His lawyers describe Holmes as a young, hardworking entrepreneur whose company went bankrupt and, they suggested Monday, who leaned on Balwani to his detriment.

Holmes had previously testified that she left Stanford University at age 19 to focus on building Theranos. On Monday, she explained that she left in part because she was raped at Stanford.

At this point, she decided to focus on building her business and, at the same time, got closer to Balwani, whom she saw as a successful businessman who had worked with Bill Gates.

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

But, at the house they shared and in texts, Balwani told her that she would never make it if she didn’t “kill old Elizabeth” by following an intense diet that included waking up at 4 in the morning, eat certain foods and stay laser focused on your goals. , she said.

Once valued at US $ 9 billion, Theranos made Holmes the celebrity of Silicon Valley. Theranos collapsed after The Wall Street Journal ran a series of articles from 2015 suggesting its devices were faulty and inaccurate. She was charged in 2018.

Holmes said last week that Balwani had prepared financial projections which were shared with investors. On Monday, Holmes spoke for about an hour about their personal relationship.

Holmes said she is not claiming that Balwani is controlling her statements to investors, journalists or business partners. But she said she hadn’t questioned him like she should, because he had taught her “everything I thought I knew about business.”

“He made an impact on everything I was. And I don’t quite understand that, ”she said.

The negative report from a healthcare regulator in 2016 shook her positive view of Theranos and prompted her to make changes that Balwani didn’t like, Holmes said. They broke up that year, she said.

Since the trial began in September, jurors in San Jose have heard testimony that prosecutors prove Holmes defrauded investors between 2010 and 2015 and deceived patients once Theranos began marketing his tests, including through a partnership with Walgreens.

At the end of her direct testimony, Holmes’ attorney Kevin Downey asked why she had never sold any of her 50% stake in Theranos, which was worth $ 4.5 billion, despite the opportunities to do so. to do.

“I believed in the business and wanted to put everything I had into it,” she said.

Holmes is due to be cross-examined by a prosecutor on Tuesday morning when the trial resumes.

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