Sequoia Capital partner out after sex abuse allegations

Sequoia Capital partner Michael Goguen has left the firm after allegations that he sexually abused a woman for years.

A lawsuit filed last week in San Mateo County Superior Court lays out in sordid detail the abuse a woman named Amber Baptiste claims Goguen inflicted upon her — including taking advantage of her vulnerable status as a human trafficking victim to control her and force her to perform sexual acts over a span of more than 13 years. The suit seeks $30 million from Goguen, the outstanding balance of a settlement she says he agreed to but never paid.

The accusations appear to have ended his career at one of Silicon Valley’s most historic and prestigious venture capital firms.

“We first learned of these claims on Thursday,” the firm wrote in a statement. “We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Nevertheless, we came to the decision that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”

The firm tweeted a similar statement Saturday.

Goguen defended himself in a LinkedIn post published the same day.

“Unfortunately anyone can make horrific allegations about anyone else that they have an axe to grind with, especially after a long relationship ends badly,” he wrote. “Being successful and high profile can make you a target for the worst kind of threats or reputation damage in such a situation.

Goguen filed a cross-complaint Monday morning accusing Baptiste of extortion.

“This entire matter is purely personal and has no connection whatsoever to Sequoia or my years of work at Sequoia,” he wrote. “My departure allows me to focus with full force on clearing by name and vigorously pursuing justice.”

Baptiste sued Goguen for breach of contract. She claims she threatened to sue Goguen for personal injury, but he talked her out of it and instead they agreed to a confidential settlement in May 2014. Goguen was to make four $10 million payments, according to the suit. She claims he made one payment shortly after the settlement was finalized, and then refused to make the rest.

The lawsuit claims Goguen met Baptiste when she was a dancer at a strip club in Texas in 2001, and that he promised he would help her escape her traffickers, protect her and help her get an education if she had sex with him. The lawsuit describes in graphic detail sex acts that Baptiste claims were forced upon her over the course of their relationship.

Updated to reflect Goguen’s filing of a cross-complaint.

Image: Screenshot from Goguen’s LinkedIn page.

 

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