Sequoia partner let go amid sexual harassment accusations

After receiving a complaint for breach of contract, venture capitalist Michael Goguen filed a cross complaint for extortion and a restraining order.

Amid alleged accusations of sexual harassment and a heated legal battle that started last week, Michael Goguen has left Sequoia Capital where he has worked for about 20 years and where he most recently served as a managing partner.

Goguen is being sued by Amber Baptiste for breach of contract. Baptiste alleges that she has endured more than 10-years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by Goguen after the exotic dancer met the venture capitalist at a strip club in Texas in 2002.

“We understand the allegations about Michael Goguen are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia,” the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm said on Twitter on Saturday. “Still, we decided his departure was appropriate.”

Goguen serves on the board of about 10 portfolio companies but Sequoia will likely transfer these board seats to other partners, according to reports.

According to Baptiste’s complaint filed on 8 March, she alleged that Goguen breached an agreement in which he was supposed to pay her $40 million in four installments as compensation for harm caused to her by Goguen.

“After paying her $10 million, Mr. Goguen refused to honor the rest of the agreement,” according to the complaint. “Another wrong, in a long list of wrongs, that Mr. Goguen has perpetuated against Ms. Baptiste.” The complaint goes on, relating in graphic detail, the types of encounters and activities the two parties engaged in over the years.

Goguen responded to the allegations with a cross-complaint. While he did not deny he had an affair with Baptiste, he alleged in the court document that she fabricated “a tale that rewrote the history of a kind and mutually loving relationship in the most opposite, horrible, and defamatory ways her angry imagination could conceive.”

He accused her of trying to extort him for tens of millions of dollars and to punish him for rejecting her, “all under the guise of a lawsuit designed to incite a media firestorm, but shield Ms. Baptiste from a defamation claim.”

Goguen claims that in 2014 Baptiste threatened to publicly accuse him of violent rape and other conducts unless he agreed to her demand for a $40 million payment, which he signed, fearing “public disclosure of false and incendiary claims” could devastate his family, including his teenage daughters and his pregnant wife, and damage his professional and personal reputation.

Despite a first $10 million payment made to Baptiste, Goguen alleged that Baptiste continued her threats. “Enough is enough,” his cross complaint concluded. “Mr. Goguen is no longer willing to accede to Ms. Baptiste threats, whatever the consequences.”

Baptiste is asking for the enforcement of the agreement and the payment of the remaining sum agreed upon, as well as compensatory damages, payment of her attorney’s fees and costs and interest payments.

Goguen is asking for the nullification of the agreement, for the return of the $10 million, for damage payments and for a restraining order against Baptiste among other requests.

The case was filed in the superior court of the state of California for the County of San Mateo.