Prominent Silicon Valley investor Michael Goguen fired back on Monday against allegations that he kept a “sexual slave” for 13 years, filing a cross-complaint alleging that the initial lawsuit was an extortion attempt.
The filing against Amber Laurel Baptiste begins: “Consumed by anger, obsession and jealousy that her decade-long, mutually consensual love affair with Mr Goguen had ended, Ms Baptiste hatched a plan to get her vengeance.”
Last week, Baptiste filed a lawsuit alleging Goguen, a prominent investor, kept her “a victim of human trafficking”, sexually and physically abusing her for 13 years while he paid her. Sequoia Capital – which is an investor in Airbnb, Paypal, Oracle, and LinkedIn – fired him on Friday, after he had spent nearly 20 years with the firm.
Goguen, whose profile has been taken down from Sequoia Capital’s website, sat on numerous boards including those of Cellworks, Click Security, Clickatell, Quantenna, and R2 Semiconductor. He is confirmed to be stepping down from at least one. According to the Billings Gazette, Goguen gave a $2m grant to a task force in Montana investigating online child sex abuse material and sex trafficking.
Goguen and Baptiste allegedly met at a Texas strip club and struck up a relationship, which the initial complaint describes in detail as “abusive” and the cross-complaint describes as a “kind and mutually loving relationship.”
The lawsuit, filed to San Mateo County court last week, states that Baptiste and Goguen signed a contract saying that he would pay her $40m “as compensation for the horrors she suffered at his hands”. But after paying $10m, he allegedly “refused to honor the rest of his agreement (that he) would help her break free of the human traffickers who held her in perpetual debt”.
Baptiste’s complaint continues: “Unbeknownst to Ms. Baptiste, Mr. Goguen was a worse predator than the human traffickers who were keeping her in bondage.”
Baptiste describes a night at a hotel in London in which she was allegedly “forcibly sodomized” and “left bleeding alone on the floor of a hotel room nearly hemorrhaging to death”.
Goguen, in his cross-complaint, does not deny the incident but does deny that it was so upsetting for his partner.
“The supposed anal tear was so minor that Mr. Goguen was unaware of it until Ms. Baptiste emailed him after the fact gushing about how wonderful the night was and noting that she was scheduled to have a ‘small surgery’ that was ‘not a big deal’,” the cross-complaint states.
Goguen’s cross-complaint, which also includes pictures of Baptiste posing in lingerie and high heels, goes into detail describing many tender phrases Baptiste allegedly used for him.
“Far from being a sexual slave, Ms. Baptiste told Mr. Goguen how much she missed him when they were apart and desired to see him again, with endearing phrases such as: ‘1 Million Kisses and Hugs Forever’,” the cross complaint states.
Sequoia tweeted on Saturday: “We understand the allegations about Michael Goguen are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Still, we decided his departure was appropriate.”
The firm does not have a strong track record with women either on its team or in its investment portfolio – of twelve partners, only one is female. When asked about the lack of diversity in December, Sequoia partner Michael Moritz – who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2013 – said he wasn’t prepared to lower his standards for women.
“Oh, we look very hard. In fact, we just hired a young woman from Stanford who’s every bit as good as her peers, and if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards,” he said.
He continued: “If there are fabulously bright, driven women who are really interested in technology, very hungry to succeed, and can meet our performance standards, we’d hire them all day and night … Our job is to field the very best team.”