Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, plans to defend herself during her federal fraud trial that begins next week by alleging that her ex-boyfriend, who was a director at the company, emotionally and sexually abused her, reflecting her state of mind at the time of the alleged crimes, according to recently unsealed legal files in her case.
In documents released early Saturday, Holmes’ likely legal strategy was first outlined by lawyers involved in the case: She plans to put the blame on Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her former boyfriend and former top manager of Theranos who has also been charged in a separate fraud trial due next year.
Holmes will “probably” take the stand and testify at her trial, according to to her lawyers in the court filings.
The explosive revelations come on the eve of the trial of Holmes, who is accused of defrauding patients and investors in operating Theranos, a much-hyped company that promised to revolutionize laboratory science and attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to only to implode when journalists and government regulators scrutinized the company’s exaggerated claims.
But the court papers reveal the extent to which Holmes intends to point a finger at Balwani.
According to a declaration of Balwani’s attorneys, Holmes will describe during the trial how Balwani monitored how she ate, how she dressed, and who she spoke to.
Holmes plans to say that Balwani monitored her calls, texts and emails and that he was physically abusive, throwing “hard, sharp objects” at her.
The filing also indicated that Holmes intended to disclose sexual abuse allegedly perpetuated by Balwani.
The revelations sparked legal arguments over whether Balwani should be tried separately or with Holmes.
“Basically, aside from the sexual abuse allegations, Ms. Holmes alleges a decade-long campaign of psychological abuse concurrent with the events of the indictment,” wrote Balwani attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith.
In the files, Coopersmith called Holmes’ allegations “lustful and inflammatory.”
“Mrs Holmes’ allegations are deeply insulting to Mr Balwani and personally devastating to him,” Coopersmith wrote.
As a result of the alleged abuse, Holmes plans to claim she suffers from mental illness, including intimate partner abuse syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The abuse and manipulation Holmes plans to indict Balwani, according to the records, relates to the fraud charges, as she is expected to claim it equates to “dominating her and her ability to make decisions.” erase”, including her ability to “mislead her victims”. .”
Holmes will not present an insanity defense, her lawyers say in the new documents.
Instead, Holmes’ legal team wrote that she will demonstrate a “defense of a guilt-ridden mental state” that resulted from partner abuse that affected her “mood” at the time of the alleged crimes.
Jury selection in the Holmes lawsuit begins Tuesday in what is expected to be a months-long trial in San Jose. A key question in the proceedings was whether Holmes, who is known for wearing a black turtleneck sweater and speaking in an unusually deep voice, will testify under oath.
In the files released Saturday, Holmes’ legal team wrote that she is expected to take the witness stand and address the jury herself.
“Mrs. Holmes is likely to testify to the reasons why she believed, relied on and deferred for Mr. Balwani,” her lawyers wrote.
The recently released files were unsealed by the federal judge who presided over Holmes’ case after Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, requested the court to make the documents public.