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Elizabeth Holmes testifies college rape and partner control fueled driving at Theranos

SAN JOSE, Calif .– Elizabeth Holmes said on Monday that she was sexually assaulted after a Stanford student motivated her decision to drop out at 19 and dedicated to his failed blood testing startup, Theranos.

“I was raped when I was at Stanford, and I decided to dedicate myself to building Theranos,” the former CEO said, through tears. “I wasn’t going to class and I was wondering how I was going to handle this experience. And I decided that I was going to build a life by starting this business.”

The account, which comes as Holmes testifies as part of his defense in a fraud case, launched a series of questions about Holmes’ relationship with her former boyfriend and COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, a co-accused in the trial for fraud.

Holmes testified that Balwani, 20 years his senior, trained her to adopt a rigorous daily schedule, dictated how she should control her body movements and behave like a business man, and forced her to have sex with him, “because he said he wanted me to know he still loved me “.

He denied all allegations of abuse.

“Balwani told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business and that my beliefs were wrong, that he was amazed at my mediocrity and that if I followed my instincts I would fail,” he said. she declared.

“I needed to kill who I was, to become what he called ‘the new Elizabeth’ to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Holmes.

Holmes said Balwani was in control of their personal and professional relationships, reading aloud the silent courtroom texts exchanged by the couple.

“I molded you,” Balwani wrote in May 2015.

“Now I can be yours. No question. Completely,” she replied by text.

Balwani dismissed the charges.

The testimony linked two previously disparate accounts of his media coverage and testimony at trial. One image was of Holmes as a strong, charismatic and demanding leader. The other, according to a request filed by his lawyer on the eve of the trial, as the victim of an abusive personal and professional partner.

Her defense attorney led her through interrogations that took her away from blame for the failed lab operations.

“Who was responsible for the operational management of the laboratory? Asked defense lawyer Kevin Downey.

“Sunny Balwani,” said Holmes. He oversaw all “business parts” of the lab, she said, adding that clinical and scientific decisions rest with the lab director.

Directly addressing one of the main themes raised repeatedly by the prosecution, Holmes contradicted previous witnesses and said she never claimed that Theranos miniaturized diagnostic equipment was used on helicopters. military personnel during battlefield operations.

Theranos had signed a contract with the military to perform limited testing, but the company was never able to complete a device to its specifications on time, Holmes said.

Holmes said she had “tried to make it clear that we were doing a lot of work on developing this new device for use in medical evacuations,” but never categorically stated that they were saying they were being used as such.

Investors such as family office DeVos, the founder of a biotech investment firm, and a private investor who invested $ 6 million of his and his family’s money have testified that Holmes’ remarks on the fact to do business with the military were factors in their decision to invest millions.

“They told us that the technology had been used on the battlefield during medical evacuations, for example, and that passing diagnostic information to medical personnel in that setting was a matter of life and death,” said Brian Grossman, founding partner of PFM Health Sciences. , an experienced biotech investment firm, which has invested $ 96 million in Theranos.

Holmes said “they were using them on military helicopters,” Lisa Peterson, representative of the DeVos family office, said in mid-October. The DeVos family has invested $ 100 million in Theranos.

In total, Holmes raised $ 945 million from investors, ultimately bringing the startup’s valuation to $ 9 billion.

Monday’s testimony was the latest shock after Holmes’ surprise appearance on the witness stand.

Last week, Holmes revealed that she was the person at Theranos who added drug company logos to the company’s lab reports.

Investors testified that these logos made them think the reports were endorsed by drug companies and weighed heavily on their decision to invest.

Holmes faces 11 counts of fraud and is accused of lying to patients, doctors and investors about the capabilities of her company’s blood testing technology. While describing its proprietary devices as capable of performing all commercially available tests, they’ve never actually been able to make more than a dozen, Holmes said. And she never revealed that most of the testing was done on modified third-party test equipment, the very machines her company was supposed to disrupt.

The prosecution must prove that Holmes intended to defraud. The defense concluded the former CEO’s testimony by asking if she had already withdrawn any money.

“Have you ever sold any of your shares to Theranos?” His lawyer asked.

“I didn’t do it,” Holmes said. When asked to explain, she said, “I didn’t want to. I believed in the business and wanted to put everything I had into it.

If convicted, Holmes could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $ 250,000 and restitution. The trial is scheduled to end on December 17.

Pre-trial motions for his co-accused, Balwani, are scheduled to begin on December 16.

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