Sequoia’s Michael Goguen Responds to Sexual Abuse Complaint

Former Sequoia Capital Managing Partner Michael Goguen has responded to a breach of contract complaint filed last week, which contained allegations of extensive sexual abuse. In a LinkedIn post, Goguen claims to have “an enormous amount of evidence” that the complainant in the original suit, Amber Laurel Baptiste, aggressively pursued a romantic relationship with him, and that her suit’s “horrific allegations” were motivated by their relationship’s bad ending.

Goguen confirms earlier reports that he will file a cross-complaint on Monday alleging extortion by Baptiste. That cross-complaint, he says, will contain “Ms. Baptiste’s e-mails and text messages that span many years,” in which, according to Goguen, she “repeatedly professed her love, respect and affection for me”.

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Goguen claims that his high profile and financial success helped make him a target for Baptiste’s alleged extortion. He also writes that “Since court filings are protected by legal privilege, the most despicable things can be said about someone in a court filing without fear of being sued for defamation.”

Notably missing from Goguen’s statement is a direct denial of the allegations of sexual violence contained throughout the original breach of contract complaint (accessible here). His description of Monday’s planned cross-complaint suggests that his defense will focus instead on discrediting Baptiste using her own expressions of affection for him, including “consistent and multi-year statements about my kind and compassionate interactions and treatment of her”.

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The unfolding case adds to a mounting sense that Silicon Valley has a major problem with sexual ethics and gender politics. Similar recent cases include that of Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale and onetime mentee Ellie Clougherty, whose relationship became sexual in ways that Clougherty later alleged were nonconsensual. Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, after losing a sexual harassment suit linked to a similarly power-riven relationship, recently conducted a survey finding that 60% of women working in tech had been the target of “unwanted sexual advances” from a superior.

Goguen’s statement closes by describing the situation as “purely personal,” and says his departure from Sequoia following the filing of the suit “allows me to focus with full force on clearing my name and vigorously pursuing justice”.

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