Elizabeth Holmes Might Accuse Her Ex-Boyfriend Of Clouding Her Judgement Due To Mental And Sexual Abuse

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BuzzFeed News 28 August, 2021 - 01:27pm 94 views

The founder and former CEO of the disgraced blood diagnostics company Theranos is facing a dozen fraud charges.

By Stephanie K. Baer

Posted on August 28, 2021, at 2:27 p.m. ET

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of the disgraced blood diagnostics company Theranos, might accuse her ex-boyfriend of mentally and sexually abusing her, thereby clouding her judgement during the time she allegedly committed fraud, according to court documents that were unsealed ahead of her criminal trial.

Holmes, 37, is facing a dozen charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

In the court documents unsealed on Saturday, Holmes' attorneys allege that her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani abused and controlled her during their decade-long relationship, "including during the period of the charged conspiracies."

Balwani was Theranos's president and chief operating officer, and is facing the same set of charges. He's due to go on trial next year.

Holmes had sought to revolutionize medicine with Theranos's proprietary machine, called the Edison, which she claimed could run hundreds of blood tests on just a few drops of blood. The Edison was supposedly faster, cheaper, and more accurate than all other blood-testing lab equipment on the market. But as a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed in 2015, the machine could run, in reality, only a small number of the tests and its results were rife with inaccuracies. Instead, Theranos used commercially available machines to run the majority of its tests, diluting the tiny vials of blood to increase their volume for some tests and using much larger samples drawn from patient's arms for others.

Now, federal prosecutors must convince a jury that Holmes intentionally lied to patients and investors about the capabilities of her company's technology. If she is convicted, she will face up to 20 years in prison, plus a fine of $250,000 and restitution for each count.

As part of Holmes’ defense strategy, her attorneys may introduce evidence from a clinical psychologist, Mindy Mechanic, regarding “a mental condition bearing on guilt.” According to the documents, Mechanic, an expert on “interpersonal violence,” could speak to whether Holmes’ relationship with Balwani “was consistent with intimate partner abuse” and also discuss “present diagnoses of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety.”

According to the court documents, Holmes might allege at trial that Balwani was sexually abusive and threw objects her. And in addition to monitoring her phone and emails, he "controlled what she ate, how she dressed, how much money she could spend, who she could interact with — essentially dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions," the court documents state.

In a court motion to hold separate trials, Balwani's attorney, Jeffrey Coopersmith, said Holmes’ allegations are "deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him, and highly and unfairly prejudicial to his defense of this case."

The documents were among a slew of filings made public by the court in response to a request by Dow Jones & Company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, to unseal the pleadings and hearing transcripts associated with the government’s evaluation and her and Balwani’s motions to sever their trials.

After much of the now-defunct company’s alleged misdeeds were shrouded in secrecy, hundreds of documents in Holmes’ 3-year-old criminal case were filed under seal with no information about who filed the documents, what they contained, or why they needed to be kept private.

Attorneys for Dow Jones estimated that 40% of the docket was under seal as they argued that the public — and the press — have a right to access the records under the First Amendment.

During a hearing regarding Dow Jones’ motion earlier this month, federal prosecutors said they were originally opposed to sealing the documents and needed clarity on what they could discuss publicly in front of the jury during Holmes’ trial, the Journal reported.

John Cline, one of Holmes’ attorneys, said at the time that some documents could be made public, but in a filing last week her defense team argued that they should not be unsealed until after the jury is selected.

“Immediate unsealing would expose potential jurors to a spate of media reports about the newly disclosed materials,” her attorneys wrote. “That media exposure would prolong and complicate jury selection and risk seating jurors influenced by the reports.”

The concern that potential jurors could be negatively influenced by news reports about Holmes, whose rise and fall was widely covered in the news, a best-selling book, documentaries, and a podcast, has been a key issue for the defense throughout the proceedings. In May, her attorneys proposed a jury questionnaire with more than 100 questions, including detailed queries about their social media use, arguing that an expanded form was necessary to identify any potential biases against Holmes, Theranos, and Balwani.

"The cumulative effect of this torrent of prejudicial coverage is unmistakable," they wrote.

Prosecutors had asked the court to compel Holmes to submit to another psychological evaluation conducted by government experts after she informed them that she planned to introduce evidence from Mechanic. The details of that evaluation were not yet made public as of Saturday morning.

Contact Stephanie K. Baer at stephanie.baer@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

Read full article at BuzzFeed News

Elizabeth Holmes Sneak Peek: An idea that will change the world

Yahoo Finance 28 August, 2021 - 04:10pm

Elizabeth Holmes plans to claim at trial ex-boyfriend and Theranos business partner abused her

CNBC 28 August, 2021 - 12:00pm

In a bombshell revelation just days before her criminal fraud trial, defense attorneys for Elizabeth Holmes claim she's suffered a "decade-long campaign of psychological abuse" from her former boyfriend and business partner Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani.

"Balwani's control included monitoring her calls, text messages, and emails; physical violence, such as throwing hard, sharp objects at her, restricting her sleep, monitoring her movements; and insisting that any success she achieved was because of him," defense attorneys for former Theranos CEO Holmes wrote.

The revelation is contained in documents unsealed early Saturday morning by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila. Holmes met Balwani when she was 18 – he joined her blood-testing startup, Theranos, in 2009 as president and chief operating officer. The pair, who are each facing 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy, later admitted in deposition tapes that they never told investors of their relationship.

Both have pleaded not guilty and deny any wrongdoing in connection with what federal prosecutors call a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud investors, doctors and patients.

Attorneys for Holmes plan to "introduce evidence that Mr. Balwani verbally disparaged and withdrew 'affection if she displeased him;' controlled what she ate, how she dressed, and how much money she could spend, who she could interact with – essentially dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions," according to the unsealed filings.

"Ms. Holmes' allegations are deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him," Jefferey Coopersmith, an attorney for Balwani, wrote in the filings.

The documents also answer the question of whether Holmes plans to testify. "Ms. Holmes is likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on and deferred to Mr. Balwani," her attorneys wrote.

The filings also reveal that Holmes plans to argue she suffers from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, intimate-partner abuse syndrome, anxiety and depression due to her relationship with Balwani.

Balwani vehemently denied the allegations, citing them as a reason for his request for a separate trial, which was granted. Coopersmith writes that Holmes' allegations "to establish her innocence would require him to defend against not only the government's case, but to defend against her allegations as well because her allegations are so inflammatory that they cannot be left unrebutted before the jury."

Lawyers for Holmes also asked to separate their trials, saying she "cannot be near him without suffering physical distress."

"She argues that if she is tried together with Mr. Balwani, she will likely suffer stress and physical ailments that will manifest visually, such that she will not appear to the jury in her true sense."

In 2020, Davila agreed that they would be tried separately. The records were unsealed in response to a motion by publisher Dow Jones, a move that defense attorneys for Holmes and Balwani tried to block until after jury selection.

Separating the trials is a strategy many legal analysts have said was an important ruling for Holmes.

"What it allows a defendant to do is to point, at trial, at the empty chair," Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and NBC News legal analyst, said. "To tell the jury that's the real bad guy here, it was all him, and have the jury find some sympathy with that story and acquit Elizabeth Holmes."

McQuade said this can go both ways, adding "of course at his trial where you have a different jury trying the case, he could do the same thing to her. Point to her empty chair and say it wasn't Sunny, it was Elizabeth."

Attorneys for Holmes and Balwani did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Jury selection for Holmes' trial begins on Tuesday.

CNBC's Scott Cohn contributed to this report.

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Elizabeth Holmes plans to accuse a former Theranos executive of 'intimate partner abuse' during her criminal trial, with claims that he threw 'sharp' objects at her and controlled how she ate and dressed

Yahoo News 28 August, 2021 - 11:01am

The founder of Theranos will claim Balwani threw "sharp" objects at her and controlled how she ate and dressed, impacting her "state of mind."

An attorney for Balwani called the accusations salacious and inflammatory.

See more stories on Insider's business page.

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, plans to accuse her former boyfriend and ex-business partner of "intimate partner abuse" as part of her defense strategy in her upcoming fraud trial.

Holmes will contend that Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani - former Theranos vice-chair, COO, and president - threw "sharp" objects at her and controlled how she ate and dressed, according to new federal court filings released Saturday.

Balwani exercised control over Holmes in what was "a decade-long campaign of psychological abuse," according to Holmes' lawyers Lance Wade and Kevin Downey. She will also accuse him of sexual abuse, the documents said.

Holmes will contend during her trial, which starts Tuesday in California, that Balwani monitored her calls, texts, and emails, impacting her "state of mind," including her decision to turn a blind eye to the failures of her blood-testing startup, which was supposed to revolutionize medical testing.

The US Department of Justice charged Holmes and Balwani with nine counts of wire fraud in 2018, accusing them of defrauding investors, medical professionals, and customers. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Before her arrest and the downfall of Theranos, Holmes was one of only a handful of female founders in Silicon Valley running a unicorn, or $1 billion-plus startup. Theranos purported to detect medical conditions like cancer and high cholesterol by using proprietary lab tech on a small amount of customers' blood. The company raised over $700 million from investors to build the tech.

The newly released court documents show how Holmes intends to build a defense against the fraud accusations. She plans to tell the court that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, which her lawyers said Holmes plans to substantiate.

The lawyers also said Holmes will detail how Balwani often isolated her, was combative towards her, and was often physically present in her office, all traits, the document said, are "abuse tactics used by abusers."

Balwani, through his lawyer, denied these allegations, according to a court document.

"Ms. Holmes' allegations are deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him," Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani's lawyer, said, calling the accusations salacious and inflammatory.

Coopersmith added: "Ms. Holmes's evidence seeking to establish her innocence would require him to defend against not only the government's case, but to defend against her allegations as well because her allegations are so inflammatory that they cannot be left unrebutted before the jury."

Balwani faces a separate fraud trial next year.

Holmes' lawyers also emphasized how the 31-year-old "lacked the intent to deceive" despite her exaggerated claims and instead fully believed her company was "saving lives."

Holmes is "likely" to take testify at the trial herself, according to her lawyers.

The truth about her machines not working surfaced after the Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou published a report in 2015 that her blood-testing machine was faulty. This was followed by a statement by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018 accusing Holmes of conducting "an elaborate, years-long fraud."

Prosecutors said she knew this from the beginning. By September 2018, Theranos was shut down.

The Theranos founder faces up to two decades in prison on fraud and conspiracy charges about the accuracy and capability of her machines. Her trial starts on August 31 in San Jose, California after being repeatedly delayed for various reasons from the pandemic to her childbirth.

Read the original article on Business Insider

In court filings submitted more than 18 months ago, Holmes' lawyers said they planned to present evidence that Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani abused her emotionally and psychologically in a relationship that spanned more than a decade. Theranos, which Holmes founded in 2003 at the age of 19, collapsed in March 2018 when she, Balwani and the $9 billion company were charged with fraud by U.S. regulators. Theranos had made Holmes, a Stanford University dropout, a Silicon Valley star.

The founder and former CEO of the disgraced blood diagnostics company Theranos is facing a dozen fraud charges.View Entire Post ›

• Elizabeth Holmes plans to accuse Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani• Blood-testing startup allegedly misled investors and patients Elizabeth Holmes says she is not responsible for decisions she made as head of the company because her mind was impaired by ‘manipulation’ from Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The disgraced founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos plans to blame emotional and sexual abuse by her former boyfriend, also a senior executive at the company, at

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After delays from the pandemic and Holmes' pregnancy, the disgraced entrepreneur finally heads to court.

Jury selection begins Tuesday in the criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder and former CEO of Theranos.Why it matters: The case will draw a bright line between “fake it ’til you make it” and outright fraud.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Flashback: Theranos billed its tech as the holy grail of blood testing, making it possible to run hundreds of assays from just a pinprick.It once was valued at $9 billion and raised more than $700 mil

Elizabeth Holmes Plans To Accuse Ex-Boyfriend Of Abuse At Theranos Fraud Trial

NPR 28 August, 2021 - 06:53am

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, plans to defend herself at her federal fraud trial starting next week by arguing that her ex-boyfriend, who was an executive at the company, emotionally and sexually abused her, impairing her state of mind at the time of the alleged crimes, according to newly unsealed legal filings in her case.

In documents released early Saturday, Holmes' legal strategy was for the first time outlined by lawyers involved in the case: She intends to pin the blame on Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, her former boyfriend and onetime top Theranos executive who has been charged in a separate fraud trial, set to take place next year.

Holmes is likely to take the stand and testify at her trial, according to her attorneys in the submissions to the court.

The new court papers, related to legal arguments over whether Balwani should be tried separately or with Holmes, disclose the degree to which Holmes is preparing to argue that Balwani controlled, manipulated and abused her.

In particular, Holmes is set to describe at trial how Balwani controlled how she ate, how she dressed and with whom she spoke, according to a filing.

Holmes intends to say that Balwani monitored her calls, text messages and emails and that he was physically violent, throwing "hard, sharp objects" at her.

The court papers also revealed that Holmes is set to accuse Balwani of sexual abuse.

"This pattern of abuse and coercive control continued over the approximately decade-long duration of Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani's relationship, including during the period of the charged conspiracies," wrote lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes in a filing.

Holmes' lawyers intend to call psychologist, Mindy Mechanic, an expert in intimate partner abuse, who evaluated Holmes for 14 hours. While her report details research about sexual violence and domestic abuse, specifics about her evaluation of Holmes were redacted.

"Ms. Holmes' allegations are deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him," Coopersmith wrote.

Holmes plans to argue that as a result of the alleged abuse, she has several mental health conditions, including intimate partner abuse syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

The abuse claims relate to the fraud charges because she is expected to argue that Balwani's actions were equivalent to "dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions," including her ability to "deceive her victims," the court papers say.

Holmes will not be presenting an insanity defense, according to her lawyers in the new documents.

Instead, Holmes' legal team wrote that she will be demonstrating a "defense of a mental condition bearing on guilt" that was the result of partner abuse and that impacted her "state of mind" at the time of the alleged crimes.

Jury selection in Holmes' trial begins on Tuesday in what is expected to be a months-long trial taking place in San Jose, Calif.

One major question going into the proceeding had been whether Holmes will take the witness stand and testify directly to the jurors.

In the filings unsealed on Saturday, Holmes' legal team provided an answer.

"Ms. Holmes is likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on, and deferred to Mr. Balwani," her lawyers wrote.

The newly released filings were unsealed by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila, who is presiding over Holmes' case, after Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, petitioned the court to make the documents public. NPR was the first to report on the new documents.

Theranos Didn’t Stop the Search for the Next Healthcare Star

The Wall Street Journal 27 August, 2021 - 11:00pm

Today, as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmesprepares to go on trial on charges of defrauding investors and patients, health-tech investing is soaring, showing that the allure of startups building better healthcare has only intensified in the years since the sector’s most prominent failure. Ms. Holmes has pleaded not guilty, and jury selection in her trial begins on Tuesday.

Investment in healthcare startups rose 51% last year to $48 billion, according to PitchBook Data Inc. It has already matched that record this year as venture-backed companies pursue new treatments and aim to weed out inefficiencies in the healthcare system at a time when the needs and possibilities for innovation in the field appear stronger than ever.

Venture capitalists and fund managers say the glut of capital also has intensified some of the perils that contributed to the Theranos disaster. A frenetic race to get in on deals across all sectors of startups has emerged, they say, often resulting in founders getting uncontested control and leaving little room for investor diligence and discipline around valuations. Such situations can create opportunities for companies to make exaggerated claims about their technology and conceal mistakes.

Beth Seidenberg, a trained physician and one of Silicon Valley’s earliest biotech investors, said advancements in technology and biology are colliding with the Covid-19 crisis to accelerate new diagnostics and therapeutics, and describes the moment as “the golden age of biotechnology.”

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