- Bloomberg reported Friday that venture capital investor Michael Goguen won a 3-year legal battle against his former mistress Amber Laurel Baptiste in California Superior Court.
- The judge ruled in Goguen’s favor and found that Baptiste, a former exotic dancer, committed fraud and extortion.
- Goguen was a partner at Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capitalwhen Baptiste initially accused him of withholding $40 million in so-called “hush money” payments in 2016. Goguen left the firm in light of the allegations and has since started his own venture firm in Whitefish, Montana.
- Baptiste has until January 10 to file an appeal, Bloomberg reported.
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One of Silicon Valley’s more explosive lawsuits that ended the career of a former partner at Sequoia Capital is winding down with the venture capitalist emerging victorious and vindicated.
Michael Goguen won a 3-year legal battle against his former mistress Amber Laurel Baptiste in California Superior Court, Bloomberg’s Lizette Chapman reported on Friday. The judge in the case ruled in Goguen’s favor and found Baptiste, a former exotic dancer, committed fraud and extortion when she threatened to go public with accusations that he had given her a sexually transmitted infection, according to Bloomberg. Baptiste, who was not present for the 3-day trial that wrapped on Dec. 20, has until Jan. 10 to appeal. As part of the ruling, Baptiste was ordered to pay back $10.25 million that Goguen had given her as a portion of a rumored $40 million “hush money payment” he had promised.
The lawsuit has powered the Silicon Valley rumor mill since 2016, and its effects have followed Goguen to his new home in Whitefish, Montana, he told Bloomberg. He said he struggled to raise funds for his new venture firm because limited partners were conscious of attracting negative press by working with him.
The initial lawsuit filed by Baptiste was graphic enough to turn away even the least risk averse investors from working with Goguen, even 3 years later. Baptiste accused Goguen of “sexually, physically, and emotionally” abusing her for more than 13 years and then refusing to pay her the $40 million agreed-upon settlement in full. The initial filing claimed Baptiste had been a “victim of human trafficking” since she was 15 years old, and that Goguen met her at a Dallas strip club in 2001 and promised to help her “escape from the human traffickers” if “she would have sex with him.” Baptiste claims that Goguen raped and abused her for many years, including an alleged incident where she was left “bleeding and alone on the floor of a hotel room in a foreign country.” The signed contract for payment came when Baptiste initially threatened to sue Goguen in 2014, according to a previous Business Insider report.
Goguen did not return Business Insider’s request for comment. He told Bloomberg that the ruling caps off a time in his life where his colleagues treated him “like a leper” and he’s become “jaded.” Baptiste could not immediately be reached for comment by Business Insider, but Bloomberg reported that she has previously said Goguen was using his “wealth and power to overwhelm” her.
Goguen was considered one of the leading investors at Sequoia Capital, having overseen several highly lucrative IPOs and exits from his networking and cybersecurity investments over his 20-year career. The initial lawsuit filed in 2016 came just as the #MeToo movement was gaining traction among the upper echelons of all businesses, and Goguen was quickly dismissed as the lawsuit played out.