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Tearful Elizabeth Holmes claims ex-boyfriend and Theranos co-founder Sunny Balwani abused her


Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes sobbed as she accused her ex Sunny Balwani of abusing her and forcing her into sex during her fraud trial.  

On Monday, in her fourth day testifying in her fraud trial, Holmes, 37, accused Balwani, 59,  of being abusive and controlling, and forcing her to have sex against her will during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016. 

‘He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me,’ said Holmes, in tears.

Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos, is seen with her ex-boyfriend Sunny Balwani, the company’s chief operating officer

Holmes is seen on November 23, leaving court with her current boyfriend Billy Evans

Holmes is seen on November 23, leaving court with her current boyfriend Billy Evans

Balwani, 59, who will go on trial in a separate case next year, is seen in June 2019

Balwani, 59, who will go on trial in a separate case next year, is seen in June 2019

She told the court that Balwani, a Pakistan-born multimillionaire who made his fortune in the dot com boom in Silicon Valley, controlled what she ate and how she lived.

She said he criticized her frequently and forced her to follow a strict daily regimen of prayer and reciting mantras, while consuming large quantities of green juice. 

Holmes, when she first confided in him, revealed that she had been raped as a student at Stanford.

‘He said that I was safe now that I had met him,’ Holmes said.

She said that he was biting in his criticism of how she ran the company. 

‘He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished by my mediocrity and that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail,’ she said. 

Holmes is seen in a court sketch from November 22, testifying in her defense

Holmes is seen in a court sketch from November 22, testifying in her defense

Holmes, seen with Evans, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and conspiracy

Holmes, seen with Evans, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and conspiracy

Balwani frequently told her to abandon her old self and ‘become a new Elizabeth’ to be successful in business, she said. 

The former couple met when she was 18 on a trip to China organized by Stanford University.

When she dropped out of the university to start the medical testing company Theranos in 2003, she contacted him and the pair became romantically involved. He joined the company in 2009, as chief operating officer.

Theranos collapsed in 2018 after it emerged that the company was built on false scientific premises. 

Holmes is accused of nine counts of wires fraud, and two of conspiracy, and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.

Her lawyers are arguing that Balwani – who will be tried next year – manipulated and took advantage of Holmes.

‘Trusting and relying on Mr Balwani as her primary adviser was one of her mistakes,’ said Lance Wade, Holmes’s lawyer, in opening statements in September. 

Holmes also testified on Monday that she believed the blood-testing startup could eventually develop technology for the battlefield – but dismissed accusations she had touted its use by the U.S. military.  

She is accused of lying about Theranos, which had touted technology that supposedly could run diagnostic tests more quickly and accurately than traditional lab testing with a drop of blood from a finger prick.

Once seen as a Silicon Valley visionary, Holmes saw her company collapse in 2018 after a series of exposes showing the firm was based on false scientific premises

Once seen as a Silicon Valley visionary, Holmes saw her company collapse in 2018 after a series of exposes showing the firm was based on false scientific premises

Prosecutors have alleged that one of the ways Holmes misled investors was by leading them to believe Theranos devices were being used by the U.S. military in the field.

Holmes said on Monday she did not believe she ever claimed that Theranos devices were being used on military medical evacuation helicopters.

Instead, Holmes said she had occasionally talked about military contracts but emphasized the company’s retail work.

Holmes also said she was disappointed the now defunct company was not able to deliver on a 2012 agreement with U.S. Central Command to create devices for testing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, after spending tens of millions of dollars on the project.

‘But I continued to believe that we would see it through,’ she said.

Like other witnesses who have appeared over the course of the trial, Holmes testified from behind a clear partition without wearing a face mask.

Holmes, seen on November 22, insists that she was simply an entrepreneur whose company failed, and she never deliberately misled anyone

Holmes, seen on November 22, insists that she was simply an entrepreneur whose company failed, and she never deliberately misled anyone

Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos vaulted Holmes to Silicon Valley stardom. 

Theranos collapsed after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles starting in 2015 that suggested its devices were flawed and inaccurate. She was indicted in 2018.

Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds was in the courtroom watching Holmes testify on Monday.

Last week, Holmes denied lying to the Walgreens drugstore chain about her company’s technology, offering rationales for withholding important details about operations and internal reports.

Since the trial began in September, jurors in San Jose have heard evidence that prosecutors say proves Holmes defrauded investors between 2010 and 2015 and deceived patients once Theranos began making its tests commercially available, including through a partnership with Walgreens.

Prosecutors during opening statements said Holmes turned to fraud after pharmaceutical companies lost interest in the Theranos technology. 

Her attorneys told jurors that Holmes was simply a young, hardworking entrepreneur whose company failed.

Holmes has testified that she believed Theranos could have achieved its goal of a miniaturized device that would make diagnostic testing cheaper and more accessible, pointing to positive results from early work with drugmakers including Pfizer Inc.

She also said plans to place Theranos devices in Walgreens stores hit regulatory and logistical challenges.

During the trial, jurors also have heard testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, including patients and investors who prosecutors have said Holmes deceived.

The prosecution’s cross-examination will begin on Tuesday. 

15 YEARS OF THERANOS

2003 – Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found Theranos, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests with just a prick of a finger and a few droplets of blood. Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.

2004 – Theranos raises $6.9million and is valued at $30million. 

2007 – Theranos is valued at $200billion.

2010 – Investors bought what Holmes was selling and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company. She said in a July Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it had raised $45million. It is valued at $1billion.

2013 – Theranos announces partnership with Walgreens.

2014 – Theranos was worth more than $9billion and Holmes the nation’s youngest self-made female billionaire, hailed by Fortune magazine.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California, on November 2, 2015

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California, on November 2, 2015

February 2015 – In The Journal of the American Medical Association, a Stanford School of Medicine professor criticizes failure to publish anything in peer-reviewed biomedical journals. A notoriously secretive company, Theranos shared very little about its blood-testing machine with the public or medical community.

October 2015 – An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that Theranos’ technology was inaccurate at best, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored, and Theranos temporarily halts finger prick tests.

June 2016 – Walgreens ended its blood-testing partnership with the company.

July 2016 – Department of Health and Human Services effectively banned Theranos in 2016 from doing any blood testing work at all.

2018 – Holmes forfeits control of Theranos and agrees to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges by the SEC that she had committed a ‘massive fraud’ that saw investors pour $700million into the firm.



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