The former biotech star Elizabeth holmes, currently judged by fraud, described herself as the abused puppet of her former partner and partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who ran the operational part of his failed company Theranos of blood tests, and said that she was raped while studying at Stanford University.
The surprise testimony that the entrepreneur was sexually assaulted as a teenager It came on his fourth day of testimony defending himself against criminal fraud charges.
“I decided to dedicate myself to building Theranos”he told jury Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.
Said Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, whom she met while studying languages in China, encouraged her to pursue her entrepreneurial aspirations the summer before she began studying at Stanford when she was 18 and he was 38. After the rape, she spoke about her trauma to Balwani and he said he would protect her, counted.
“He said he was safe now that he had met him.”he testified.
According to Holmes, rape was a factor that played a role in what characterized as his subsequent servitude to Balwani, now 56 years old. The two began a relationship in 2005 before Balwani became COO of Theranos, a position he held from 2009 to 2016.
Holmes said that he finally came under their influence after dropped out of Stanford University in 2003 to found Theranos, a startup of Silicon Valley which she managed as CEO for the next 15 years.
Far from the charismatic leader who had convinced various personalities in the business world of the potential of her technology, Elizabeth Holmes told her story on Monday based on the influence she claims to have suffered from her former partner, 19 years her senior.
Thus, Holmes also told the jurors, barely holding back his tears, that Balwani He constantly denigrated her and forced her sexually.
“He would get very angry with me and then he would come to our room and force me to have sex against my will.”Holmes said in court in San José (California, western USA), where she has been on trial since the beginning of September.
Elizabeth Holmes claimed to the court that Balwani controlled her closely, dictated her diet and schedule, and alienated her from her family.
Homes showed text messages where Balwani told him that he wanted to “kill old Elizabeth” and “Shape” into a new person, more masculine and less “girl”.
“He felt that she was a girl and thought she had to be more serious and more direct”Holmes explained as he read Balwani’s demands. They included spending at least 30 minutes each morning writing down her daily goals and never spending more than five minutes meeting with someone unless she had written down a reason that justified the extra time.
“He yelled at me, saying he was disappointed in my mediocrity,” Holmes specified in a trembling voice.
“I needed to kill the person I was to become an entrepreneur”, remember what he said. “It was very prescriptive. She said that if I wanted to be a good entrepreneur I needed to dedicate all my time to the business “, the seven days of the week.
That included not getting much sleep and “Foods that would only make me pure, having a very disciplined and intense lifestyle“, said.
At other times, Holmes said, Balwani compared her to a “Monkey flying in a spaceship” and he was trying to isolate her from her family in an alleged effort to ensure that she devoted herself to Theranos full time.
The relationship lasted until 2016, when he decided to leave Ramesh Balwani and recruit a new management team.
Balwani faces fraud allegations mirroring Holmes’, but in another trial scheduled to start early next year.
Holmes was 19 years old in 2003 when he founded the company Theranos, which promised faster and cheaper blood test techniques than traditional labs.
However, in 2015 the investigations of the newspaper Wall street journal revealed that methods that were supposed to allow up to 200 tests from a few drops of blood did not work and investors lost millions of dollars.
Elizabeth Holmes’s lawyers had so far tried to paint for the jury the image of a young and innovative visionary determined to revolutionize blood diagnostics.
They tried to show their good faith and refute the cover-up accusations from problems to investors.
The prosecutor’s office, who will interrogate her from this Tuesday, you want to show that you closely supervised all the activities of your company.
Holmes will return to the witness stand Tuesday when prosecutors have their first opportunity to question her under oath.
Holmes could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.
(With information from AFP, AP, Bloomberg)