Elizabeth Holmes accuses ex-lover, Theranos business partner of abuse

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San Jose, Calif. — Disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes described herself as an abused puppet of her ex-boyfriend and business partner Sunny Balwani in tearful testimony on Monday, part of her effort to refute allegations that she used a faulty blood-testing technique. lied about which he had welcomed. as a great success.

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

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A weeping Holmes, now 37, testified that she was raped at Stanford—a factor she believes served as a later submission to Balwani, now 56. played a role in The two became romantically involved in 2005 before Balvani became chief operating officer at Theranos. , a position he held from 2009 to 2016.

Before joining Theranos, Balvani was regularly reprimanding Holmes as an inept executive, with strict instructions from Holmes handwritten by Balvani in an effort to become more disciplined and focused, according to his testimony and contemporary notes. There was a need to “kill” his former self.

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Holmes read of Balwani’s demands, explaining, “She felt like I came across as a little girl and felt I needed to be more serious and more candid.” They included spending at least 30 minutes each morning writing down her daily goals and no more than five minutes in a meeting with someone, unless she wrote down a reason to justify the extra time.

If he didn’t do what Balvani said, Holmes said, he would scream and tell her that he was “very disappointed in my mediocrity.”

At other times, Holmes said, Balvani would compare her to “a monkey flying a space ship” and would try to isolate her from her family in an alleged attempt to ensure that she dedicates herself full time to Theranos. Give. She also said that he controlled her diet in an effort to keep her “pure.” Sometimes after Balvani humiliates her, Holmes testifies, he will force her to have sex against her will, to show that he loves her.

The dramatic turn of events occurred during the fourth day of Holmes’ testimony when the jury weighed charges of fraud, which allegedly involved defrauding investors and risking patients by telling detailed lies about the company’s development of the revolutionary blood-testing device. customers were involved. If found guilty, Holmes could face up to 20 years in prison.

The 14 jurors, consisting of two substitutes, listened attentively, but with less visible emotion, as Holmes described her relationship with Balwani.

Balwani is facing fraud charges in another trial against Holmes that begins early next year. She and Holmes ended their relationship in May 2016 when she moved out of the Silicon Valley home they shared for years while hiding their romantic relationship.

Federal prosecutors wanted to try coercion with Holmes, but U.S. District Judge Edward Davila set the proceedings aside because of the possibility that Holmes would blame some of his behavior on “intimate partner abuse.”

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

Balvani’s portrait of Holmes stood in stark contrast to other evidence indicating that he always avoided Holmes – the subject of flattering business profiles comparing him to a female version of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, whom he had portrayed in his role. was adopted as one of the models.

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

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

In his testimony, Holmes said that most people did not realize how much Balwani controlled him because most of his alleged abuse took place outside the office.

Under questioning by one of his attorneys, Holmes admitted that Balwani never told him what investors had to say, he is now accused of defrauding. She also testified that Balvani did not influence her discussions with Walgreens and Safeway, two major retailers that had agreed to use Theranos’ blood-testing technology after finding that it was not promising. She was not performing.

Instead Holmes says that she did everything she could to address Theranos’ problems in an effort to make her ambitions come true. But she also said that she cannot explain all the different ways in which Balwani influenced her during the years they were together.

“He wasn’t who I thought he was,” said Holmes, “that influenced everything about who I was and I don’t fully understand it.”

Holmes will return as a witness on Tuesday when prosecutors get their first chance to grill him under oath.

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