Days before her criminal fraud trial, defense attorneys for Elizabeth Holmes claimed she had suffered a “decade-long campaign of emotional abuse” by her ex-boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh ” Sunny “Balwani.
Defense attorneys said: “Balwani’s monitoring included monitoring his calls, texts and emails; physical violence, such as throwing hard, pointed objects at him, restricting his sleep, monitoring his movements; and insisted that all the success he got was because of him, ”wrote defense counsel for Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos.
The revelation is contained in documents closed Saturday morning by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila. Holmes met Balvani at the age of 18 – he joined their blood testing startup Theranos in 2009 as president and chief operating officer. The couple, who each face 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy, later admitted in statement tapes that they never told investors about their relationship.
The two have pleaded not guilty and federal prosecutors have denied any wrongdoing linked to a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors, doctors and patients.
Holmes’ attorneys “plan to present evidence that Mr. Balwani verbally humiliated and ‘removed affection if he offended him’; controlled what she ate, how she dressed and how much money she could spend who she could interact with, essentially dominating her and eroding her ability to make decisions. From the sealed file.
“Ms. Holmes’ allegations are extremely offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating to him personally,” Jeffrey Coopersmith, a lawyer for Balwani, wrote in the file.
The documents also answer the question of whether Holmes plans to testify. “Ms. Holmes herself is likely to testify for the reasons she believed in, relied on and relied on Mr. Balwani,” their attorneys wrote.
The record also shows that Holmes is considering arguing that she suffers from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence syndrome, anxiety and depression, as a result of her relationship with Balwani. .
Balwani vehemently denied the allegations, citing them as the reason for his request for a separate trial, which he was granted. Coopersmith writes that Holmes’ accusations “to prove his innocence would require him to defend himself not only against the government case, but also against his charges because his allegations are so inflammatory that they are not indisputable before a jury.” can be abandoned.
Holmes’ lawyers have also called for their lawsuits to be quashed, saying she “could not be near him without suffering physical pain”.
“They contend that if she is sued with Mr. Balwani, she might be faced with stress and physical ailments that would appear visually, as if she would not appear before a jury in the true sense of the word.”
In 2020, Davila agreed that they would be tried separately. The files were sealed in response to a petition from publisher Dow Jones, a decision defense attorneys for Holmes and Balwani tried to block until jury selection.
Separation of trials is a strategy that many legal analysts have called a key decision for Holmes.
“What it allows an accused to do is, at trial, on an empty chair,” said Barbara McQuade, former US lawyer and NBC News legal analyst. “Telling the jury that the real villain here is all it was, and the jury gained some sympathy with this story and acquitted Elizabeth Holmes.”
McQuade said it could go either way: “Sure, in her trial where you have a different jury trying the case, she could do the same to her. Showing his empty chair. And say it wasn’t Sunny, it was Elizabeth.
Lawyers for Holmes and Balwani did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Jury selection for Holmes’ trial begins Tuesday.
–CNBC’s Scott Cohn contributed to this report.