MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — A former partner at a high-profile Silicon Valley venture capital firm has found himself embroiled in sexual abuse allegations.
Michael Goguen was a managing partner at Sequoia Capital up until the company fired him last week following a 20-year stint at the firm.
Goguen’s former mistress, Amber Baptiste, claimed in a lawsuit she was his sexual slave and suffered constant sexual abuse for 13 years after meeting him in 2001 at a Texas strip club.
Baptiste characterized herself as a victim of sex trafficking since the age of 15, and that when she met Baptiste years later, he promised he would help her escape her traffickers.
According to her complaint, “Goguen was a worse predator than the human traffickers who were keeping her in bondage.”
Baptiste claims that after she threatened to sue Goguen over the years of sexual abuse, Goguen convinced her to sign a written settlement in which he would pay her $40 million in hush money. She alleges that Goguen only paid her $10 million and reneged on the rest.
Baptiste is suing for the additional $30 million, along with compensatory damages, interest and court costs.
Goguen’s countersuit characterized Baptiste as a woman scorned, out for revenge and extorting him. “This entire matter is purely personal and has no connection whatsoever to Sequoia or my years of work at Sequoia,” said Goguen in a statement. “My departure allows me to focus with full force on clearing my name and vigorously pursuing justice.”
KPIX 5 legal analyst Paul Henderson says he may have an actual valid claim of extortion and that the two suits are some of the most legally intertwined he’s ever seen.
“This is like one of the test questions you would see on the bar [examination] – because it’s so complicated,” Henderson said.
Goguen claims in his suit that there was a payment agreement, but that he stopped honoring the original payment agreement when she contacted him. It’s a contract that, according to Henderson, may be legally suspect in the first place.
“You cannot contract for illegal or immoral behavior,” said Henderson. “This is why you can’t have prostitution under a contract.”
Sequoia Capital’s investment portfolio has included WhatsApp, Yik Yak, Instagram and dozens of other tech companies.
UPDATE: Goguen’s attorney, Diane Doolittle, issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
“This lawsuit is a vile collection of lies and a transparent attempt to destroy the reputation and good name of Mr. Goguen. The overwhelming evidence — as cited in our Cross Complaint for extortion – shows that she is a disgruntled former lover who had a consensual relationship with him starting in her 20s. This isn’t a case of human trafficking, but an age old story of a jilted lover looking for revenge. We are eager to fight these defamatory and outlandish allegations and tell the truth. We look forward to our day in court, where facts trump fiction.”
Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Baptiste and Goguen met when she was 15 years old. According to Baptiste’s complaint, the two met in 2001. Baptiste’s lawyer says she was born in 1980.