Elizabeth Holmes details abusive relationship with Theranos ex-president Balwani ahead of cross-examination

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  • Defense lawyers ended their questioning of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes on Monday, her fourth day on the stand.
  • Holmes gave emotional testimony accusing former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani of physical and mental abuse.
  • Prosecutors now have an opportunity to examine Holmes, who faces 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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San Jose, Calif. — In an emotional and sometimes tearful testimony on Monday, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes accused ex-boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was also the company’s president, of a pattern of physical and psychological abuse, including forced sex Included.

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Holmes, 37, took the stand for the fourth and final day of questioning by his defense attorneys, with prosecutors in what is sure to be a heated argument. Holmes faces 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role at the blood-testing company, which collapsed in 2018 after a few years worth of $9 billion.

While Holmes mentioned Balvani dozens of times in the first three days of his testimony, the topic of abuse didn’t come up until Monday afternoon, as defense insisted on a central claim made just before the trial. Her lawyers then wrote that Holmes had suffered “a decade-long campaign of psychological abuse” at the hands of Balwani.

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Holmes told jurors on Monday that in the decade they lived together, Balwani consistently criticized her work ethic as an entrepreneur, “mediocrity” and the fact that she “appeared as a little girl”. came.” Physical abuse will follow, she said.

Holmes said sometimes, “He would get very angry with me and then sometimes come upstairs in our bedroom and force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he wanted to.” Let me know that he still loves me.” fight with tears

When asked how Balwani’s behavior affected his relationship with his family, Holmes said it was particularly damaging.

“I saw them less than before and I talked to them less than before,” she said. “Because I was trying to focus all my time on the company. If I was with my family, Sunny would get very upset. He said it was a distraction to the business.”

Balwani’s attorney, Jeffrey Coopersmith, declined to comment.

During the first 11 weeks of the trial, prosecutors called on Stand’s former laboratory directors, patients, doctors, business partners and investors, as well as journalist Roger Parloff, who wrote 2014 Fortune magazine. cover story, “This CEO is out for blood.”

The prosecution rested on 19 November and later that day the defense stunned the courtroom. Calling Holmes as a Witness, A Stanford University dropout and former Silicon Valley wunderkind could face up to two decades in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty.

Balwani, 20 years older than Holmes, faces the same charges and will face trial later. He also pleaded not guilty.

Holmes started Theranos in 2003. Balwani joined after six years and served as Holmes’ second-in-command until his departure in 2016. In testimony last week, Holmes said Balwani was in charge of operating the company’s laboratories and handling financial projections.

Holmes told jurors on Monday that she had met Balwani in China. She was 18 at the time, and he was 38.

“I understood that he was a really successful business man, having worked with Bill Gates in the early days of Microsoft,” Holmes said. “I talked to her about wanting to start a company, and a company I tried to build in high school and I asked for her advice.”

While she was attending Stanford the next school year, Holmes said that Balwani would email her. Holmes left his sophomore year at Stanford to work for the company that would become Theranos.

Holmes’ attorney, Kevin Downey, asked if there were other reasons for him to leave Stanford.

“I was raped,” said Holmes, crying. (Police agencies told Businesshala they had no record of the report in Holmes’ name.)

She was then asked about the impact of that experience on her life.

“I was questioning how I was going to process that experience and what I was going to do with my life,” she said. “And I decided I was going to make a living by building this company.”

Downey asks Holmes if he has spoken to Balwani about the incident. Holmes said she did and that, “She said I was safe now that I had met her.”

During the course of the prosecution’s case, Holmes was portrayed by a series of witnesses as the undisputed leader of Theranos and the single person responsible for all of its major decisions. He chose board members, interviewed investors and held business meetings with potential partners.

‘I wanted to kill the person I was’

While he acknowledged in his defense responses that some of his behavior was subpar, such as adding the drugmaker logo to the Theranos lab report, Holmes insisted that he did not intend to mislead patients or investors.

Now Holmes is asking jurors to believe that, for at least a decade after that, she was under Balwani’s influence.

“He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my beliefs were wrong, that he was amazed at my mediocrity, that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail and that I The person I needed to kill was to be what they called a new Elizabethan who could be a successful entrepreneur,” Holmes said.

She said Balwani insisted that if she wanted to be successful she worked seven days a week and that she only spent time with people who could help with the business.

“He used to tell me not to sleep too much, to eat only the food that would cleanse me and give me the most energy in company,” she said.

Downey read a text from Balwani to Holmes dated November 30, 2013, which said, “I feel so lonely when your family is here.”

Holmes provided the jury with the background for the lesson.

“He’s angry with me because he felt neglected when my family came over for Thanksgiving,” she said. “It’s one of those nights where he was crying, came up and did something to me that I didn’t want and hurt me.”

Downey asked Holmes if she sometimes took notes “after Sunny forced you to have sex”.

Holmes said he did and referenced a note from February 2015. She said in the note, “I’m reacting to one of those incidents and I’m writing about the fact that I couldn’t move and sit and that I lay there swollen and I couldn’t understand.” Wasn’t coming why I was hurting myself, why I wasn’t going.”

She continued, “She taught me everything I thought I knew about business and I thought she was the best business person I knew. I guess I didn’t question her that way.” as I would have been otherwise.”

Holmes said his outlook began to change in 2016. That’s when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services came together for one. Inspection, after a series of Wall Street Journal stories exposed Theranos’ false promises and technical shortcomings.

“I went into that inspection thinking we had one of the best laboratories in the world and the findings of that inspection were fundamentally different from what I had believed,” Holmes said.

She said that after the unsuccessful oversight, she hired two lab directors and brought in other lab experts, all to the dismay of Balwani, who left the company shortly after those decisions.

“He wasn’t who I thought he was,” Holmes said. “And I realized that if I was going to fix the issues and allow the company to see it through my potential I had to do it without him at the company.”

Nevertheless, Holmes, in response to several questions by his lawyer, said that Balwani did not compel him to make any statements about Theranos to investors, business partners or journalists.

Downey asked, “What impact, if any, did your relationship with Mr. Balwani have on your work at Theranos?”

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

At the end of Downey’s inquiry, Holmes was asked about the value of the company. She said it was worth $9 billion. Holmes owned 50%, giving him a net worth of about $4.5 billion, he said, matching the value he had given. forbes magazine in 2015. A year later, those shares were worthless.

Holmes told Downey that he had an opportunity to sell his stock to new investors who were joined by various board members. When asked if he had ever sold it, he said no.

“I didn’t want to,” she said. “I believed in the company and wanted to put my all in it.”

“Do those shares have any value now?” Downey asked.

“No,” said Holmes.

The court went into recess shortly before 4 p.m. California time. The government’s cross-examination will start from Tuesday morning.

Holmes attempted to make eye contact with each of the jurors as they entered the courtroom. Most did not look at him.

Watch: Elizabeth Holmes Takes Stand on Day 3


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