How Elizabeth Holmes' abuse allegations could impact her criminal trial

Asia's Tech News Daily

For months, jurors at Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal trial have heard one witness after another speak about the confident and charismatic former CEO of Theranos. Witnesses testified about how she convinced investors to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into her failed blood-testing startup, attracted a star-studded roster of board members and negotiated a key retail partnership on her own without a lawyer present.

How Elizabeth Holmes' abuse allegations could impact her criminal trial
© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Holmes testified at her criminal fraud trial that her ex-boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was also her second-in-command at the blood-testing startup, abused and tried to control her while they were romantically involved. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

But this week, a tearful Holmes sat on the witness stand and delivered a stunningly different perspective on her time running the company. Behind the scenes, Holmes alleges, she was in the midst of a decade-long abusive relationship with Theranos’ chief operating officer and president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who she said tried to control nearly every aspect of her life.

The allegation from Holmes, who is one of only a few witnesses expected to be called to testify by her defense team, was easily the most emotionally-charged moment of her five days on the stand so far. Her claim, which Balwani’s attorneys have previously denied, could also complicate the government’s case against her in the eyes of the jury.

The government alleges Holmes knowingly misled investors, doctors and patients about the capabilities of her company’s blood testing technology through a web of alleged deception in pursuit of money. Holmes faces nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and up to 20 years in prison if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty.

Her abuse claim potentially raises new questions for jurors about her intent to mislead — a key factor the jury of eight men and four women will weigh when determining her fate. Indeed, just before jury selection got underway, the court unsealed documents which detailed that Holmes’ may claim she was abused by Balwani as evidence “that she lacked the intent to deceive.” (Potential jurors were also previously asked whether they had any experience with interpersonal abuse or violence in an effort to weed out those who might be biased.)

“It may make [jurors] second guess whether she was intentionally committing a fraud,” said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former federal prosecutor. Some jurors, however, might be skeptical of her testimony. “This case is very much about who is Elizabeth Holmes and how opportunistic is she that she’ll say whatever the moment requires her to say.”

“It kind of blurs what the trial is about”

Holmes first met Balwani after graduating high school when she was just 18 and he was 38. Holmes later dropped out of her sophomore year at Stanford to launch a business, a decision that she testified was due in part to her having been raped while at school. As she chose to pour herself into building a company, she said she sought business advice from Balwani. The relationship then turned romantic.

As she fought back tears, she testified Balwani’s control over her ranged from forcing her to have sex with him to prescribing her an incredibly restrictive lifestyle. He allegedly disciplined her eating, her voice and her image. He also allegedly isolated her from others.

“Sunny would get very upset if I was with my family because he said it was a distraction to the business,” she testified on Monday.

Notably, Holmes testified that Balwani didn’t control her interactions with investors, journalists, retail executives, or board members. Rather, she testified, “he impacted everything about who I was, and I don’t fully understand that.”

Balwani, who was indicted alongside Holmes and will face the same charges when his trial begins next year, has also pleaded not guilty. Their trials were severed after Holmes indicated she may testify she was the victim of intimate partner abuse.

According to Dr. Evan Stark, a forensic social worker, the nature of the relationship that Holmes has claimed has the hallmarks of what’s known as “coercive control,” which is also the title of a book by Stark. The term refers to a pattern of abusive behavior that takes away a person’s freedom.

Stark has consulted on cases (though not the Holmes case) with clinical psychologist Dr. Mindy Mechanic, who the defense indicated it may call to testify as an expert in the Holmes trial. Mechanic, whose work focuses on the psychosocial consequences of violence, trauma and victimization, evaluated Holmes for 14 hours, and also conducted interviews with her family members, according to pre-trial filings. “Expert testimony will be helpful and appropriate in educating the jury as to the reasons for Ms. Holmes’ belief in, deference to, and reliance on Mr. Balwani,” the defense wrote in one court filing. (The government was also able to have an expert evaluate Holmes.)

Stark said Holmes’ abuse testimony is ultimately an appeal to the jury. “It raises a question in the jury’s mind about whether or not she was fully responsible for the activities.”

Dr. Ziv Cohen, a forensic psychiatrist and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, said it could also be effective “because it kind of blurs what the trial is about.”

Jessica Roth, a professor at Cardozo Law School and former federal prosecutor, echoed the point. “It could both be true — that she was in an abusive relationship as she alleges, and that she’s guilty of the charges. I don’t think the government has to disprove her allegations for it to prevail at trial.”

Attempting to poke holes after a bombshell testimony

At the very least, the abuse allegation potentially complicates the prosecution’s cross-examination of Holmes by introducing sensitivities.

In questioning Holmes on Tuesday, assistant US attorney Robert Leach sought to contrast Balwani’s alleged control over her life with her power at the company she founded, led and in which she had a 51% stake.

“He was an at will employee?” Leach asked. “He was,” Holmes testified. “Okay. You could fire him at any time?” Leach continued. “I could,” Holmes replied.

Leach sought to discredit Holmes through pointing out that the rationale she had for her split with Balwani differed from prior testimony given to the Securities and Exchange Commission. She told the SEC her relationship with Balwani lost its romantic luster at some point after they started working together. She didn’t mention, as she testified Monday, that her view of Balwani changed after learning the findings of a regulatory inspection of Theranos’ lab.

Leach also sought to establish that she was able to end the relationship herself, without seeing any mental heath professionals.

The awkwardness of the prosecution’s questioning became palpable on Tuesday as Leach asked Holmes to read aloud her private messages with Balwani in a bid to prove their relationship was “at times loving and at times not so loving.” In so doing, Holmes, for the second day in a row, became emotional on the stand.

Stark said if the intent is to use text messages to discredit the nature of the relationship, Dr. Mechanic will “tear to shreds that argument” if she is called to testify by the defense. “There’s nothing inconsistent between loving men that hurt you,” Stark said.

Levenson, the former federal prosecutor, said the government needs “to be careful not to cross the line to get into a trial over whether she was abused and keep the case focused on whether, notwithstanding her personal life, she was still knowingly making false representations.”

Leach also questioned Holmes about whether she was “involved in another romantic relationship during the time period 2010 to 2015.” Holmes, who lived with Balwani from 2005 to 2016, initially testified “no,” in an apparent confusion over the dates. She then confirmed she was in another in early 2010, but “it was not actually a formal relationship.”

The relevance of the question went unexplained by Leach. But according to Cohen, it may be an attempt to show the ways in which Holmes appeared to have agency. “If he was an abuser and a controller, that wouldn’t fit with her dating somebody else. It is uncomfortable but the prosecution really has to poke holes.”

Leach’s cross-examination of Holmes is set to resume Tuesday.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Verfahren wegen Sicherheitslücken bei Organspende-Register

Laut dem «Kassensturz» soll es möglich sein, eine Person ohne deren Wissen zum Organspender zu machen. Die Betreiberin hat ihr Register vorübergehend vom Netz genommen. © Foto: Christian Beutler (Keystone/Archiv) ... Read more »

How baseball's analytics movement affects the 2022 Hall of Fame vote

The 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame writers’ ballot might very well be the most fascinating and polarizing such referendum in the museum’s history. This week, ahead of the results being ... Read more »

Do you know flags better than Simon Cowell? Take our test to find out

FOR flag’s sake, Simon! We revealed yesterday how Simon Cowell failed to recognise the English flag at Britain’s Got Talent auditions – and was rightly mocked by fellow judge David ... Read more »

Source reveals what "high figures of authority" are now saying "inside United" about Rangnick

Members of the Manchester United hierarchy had doubts over whether Ralf Rangnick was the right man to move into the Old Trafford hot seat before he was even appointed, according ... Read more »

Ralf Rangnick had one hour chat with Paul Pogba after impressive training session

Ralf Rangnick is convinced Paul Pogba will act professionally until the end of this season, when the Manchester United midfielder is able to walk away from the club for free. ... Read more »

Rangnick ‘identifies' defensive trio as ‘key issues' in Man Utd squad

© PA Images Man Utd players during a warm-up Ralf Rangnick has ‘identified’ Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as ‘key issues’ in the Man Utd squad, according to ... Read more »

C$ outshines G10 peers as oil posts multi-year high

By Fergal Smith © Reuters/Mark Blinch FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the “Loonie”, is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto TORONTO (Reuters) – The ... Read more »

Emirate fordern nach Huthi-Angriff Sitzung des UNO-Sicherheitsrates

Der Bürgerkrieg in Jemen breitet sich aus. Dabei haben in diesem Konflikt bereits 370’000 Menschen ihr Leben verloren. © Foto: Planet Labs PPC via AP/Keystone (17. Januar 2022) Auf diesem ... Read more »

Lara Logan dropped by agents for comparing Dr Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele on Fox News

© Screeners/Video Fox News anchor Lara Logan claims ‘people all across the world’ are comparing Dr Fauci to Nazi doctor – Screeners/Video Former 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan has been ... Read more »

O'Ward: Arrow McLaren SP will join IndyCar elite, isn't there yet

The 21-year-old Mexican finished third in last year’s championship, just a year after claiming fourth, and the 2018 Indy Lights champion also nailed his first two wins in the NTT ... Read more »

Executive VP Gary Crotty elected to FIA judge post, a first for NASCAR

Gary Crotty, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for NASCAR, celebrates a historic first as the new year gets going. It’s a crossover into the affairs of global motorsports, ... Read more »

It's Time To Swap Out Your Cloth Face Masks For KN95s Or N95s

With new COVID-19 recommendations being released what feels like almost every day, making decisions about how and when to mask up can be confusing. Inside, or outside? Even if you’re ... Read more »

Two more House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection at midterms

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that they will not seek reelection in November, becoming the 27th and 28th House Democrats who will not be back ... Read more »

Media protest restrictions on ex-officers trial in Floyd killing

A coalition of media groups has said restrictions on access to the federal civil rights trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death would amount to ... Read more »

Subway lines suspended over COVID staffing shortages set to resume

Transit officials will resume service on five subway lines they suspended in December to cope with COVID staff shortages, Acting MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said Tuesday. The B, Z, Rockaway ... Read more »

Adapt-IT: Ready to take private flight into mergers and acquisitions

Two years of the pandemic, two competing corporate actions, riots in KwaZulu-Natal, rolling blackouts, the Delta and Omicron waves and the infamous travel red lists — that’s a lot of ... Read more »

South Africa's year-on-year mining output spikes in November 2021, but dips on monthly basis

Data released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday showed that mining production rose 5.2% in November of 2021 compared with the same month in 2020. Platinum group metals ... Read more »

LUFC urged to sign 21 y/o La Liga ace described as 'an ideal Bielsa forward'

The analysts at Tifo Football have suggested that Leeds United should pursue Oihan Sancet during the January transfer window. One of Leeds’ big problems this season has been their failure ... Read more »

MTU Kerry fire home four goals in Sigerson Cup win over MTU Cork

Sigerson Cup Round 2A Results MTU Kerry 4-9 MTU Cork 1-10 NUI Galway 3-10 Queen’s University Belfast 2-7 ***** © Laszlo Geczo Kerry footballer Tony Brosnan is part of the ... Read more »

Judge signs plan, resolves Puerto Rico bankruptcy battle

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s nearly five-year bankruptcy battle was resolved Tuesday after a federal judge signed a plan that slashes the U.S. territory’s public debt load as ... Read more »

Canucks' Bo Horvat, Bruins' Mike Reilly placed in COVID protocol

The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks have both announced new additions to the COVID protocol Tuesday. © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat. In Vancouver, it’s captain ... Read more »

Juventus chief rules out Anthony Martial loan

Juventus director Maurizio Arrivabene has claimed Juventus will no longer pursue a loan deal for Manchester United outcast Anthony Martial this month, with the Frenchman’s wages proving problematic. © Provided ... Read more »

AT&T, Verizon change 5G rollout plans after airlines protest

AT&T and Verizon said Tuesday they would alter their planned rollout of 5G service to avoid airports after US airline CEOs warned the deployment could have “catastrophic” consequences for travel. ... Read more »

LCK power rankings: 2022 Spring Split week one

© Provided by Dot Esports The LCK brought the thunder during the first week of the 2022 season, with upsets and nail-biting matches throughout the league. Taking into account the ... Read more »

Bobby Kotick, Phil Spencer discuss Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard on CNBC

© Provided by Dot Esports Bobby Kotick and Phil Spencer deflected questions about workplace culture issues playing a role in Microsoft’s announcement today that it’s acquiring Activision Blizzard during an ... Read more »

The Pokémon franchise made more money in 2021 than it has in any year since 2000

© Provided by GamePur The Pokémon franchise set a new sales milestone in 2021 by reaching its highest annual total dollar sales amount since 2000, according to NPD analyst Mat ... Read more »

A physical copy of Pokémon Legends: Arceus in the wild 10 days ahead of release, leaks likely not far behind

© Provided by GamePur Pokémon Legends: Arceus is due to release to the Nintendo Switch on January 28. However, well ahead of the release, an early physical copy of the ... Read more »

Nemanja Vidić FIFA 22: How to Complete the Prime Icon SBC

Nemanja Vidić was leaked to be added as a Prime Icon SBC to FIFA 22 over the last 24 hours, and today EA Sports revealed two new Icon SBCs in ... Read more »

Copies of Pokémon Legends: Arceus have reportedly been spotted in the wild, leaks likely to follow

© Provided by Dot Esports Pokémon Legends: Arceus isn’t officially releasing for the Nintendo Switch until Jan. 28. But it appears that at least one physical copy of the game ... Read more »

Winterwatch viewers go wild after host Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham make VERY rude innuendos as BBC show returns

WINTERWATCH viewers were sent wild after host Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham made some VERY rude innuendos as BBC show returned tonight. Fans of the show were in hysterics after ... Read more »

I cried when I could finally read my daughter's letters after learning aged 51, says Repair Shop star Jay Blades

LIKE millions of dads in the pandemic, TV star Jay Blades sat down to read his child a bedtime story over Zoom. But the book was for toddlers, not a ... Read more »

Mild quake hits off coast of Itbayat, Batanes

© screenshot Quake hits off coast of Itabayat, Batanes A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit Itbayat in Batanes early Wednesday morning, PHIVOLCS reported. The quake, which was tectonic in origin, occurred at ... Read more »

WestJet, Air Canada cancel flights as Omicron takes toll on sector

MONTREAL — Canada’s two biggest airlines are cutting thousands of flights as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge. © Provided by The Canadian Press WestJet Airlines Inc. said Tuesday it ... Read more »

Versed's $18 Instant Resurfacing Facial Is Going Viral on TikTok for Its Clinical-Grade Results—& Selling Out Fast

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have ... Read more »

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts on Sale Will Get You a Sweet Bargain on an Even Sweeter Gift

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and it can be pretty intimidating to find the best Valentine’s Day gift for the person you love. While finding the right gift can be ... Read more »

2022 Grammys rescheduled after COVID-19 postponement

Trevor Noah will return to host the rescheduled 2022 Grammy Awards on Sunday, April 3. Getty Images The 64th annual Grammy Awards have a new air date. Following an announcement ... Read more »

Dancing on Ice 2022: Bez ‘could die' if he falls over warns fiancee as star to MISS live show after positive Covid test

HAPPY Mondays legend Bez has announced he has tested positive for Covid-19 the day after making his Dancing On Ice debut. The 57-year-old has said he is “gutted” that he ... Read more »

Pandemic is 'nowhere near over', World Health Organization warns

The World Health Organization chief warned on Tuesday that the pandemic is “nowhere near over”, adding that new variants are likely to continue emerging after Omicron. “This pandemic is nowhere ... Read more »

Diamond Alvarez: Houston police charge boyfriend of teen shot 22 times

© Independent Breaking News A suspect in connection to the murder of Diamond Alvarez, 16, who was shot 22 times while walking her dog, has been arrested by the Houston ... Read more »

‘He died a hero': Man jumps into frozen pond trying to save 10-year-old girl who fell through the ice

© Facebook @AmandaBeals Family.jpg A man who jumped into a frozen pond has died while the 10-year-old granddaughter he tried to rescue is fighting for her life. Ma’Lyiah White fell ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic