Michael Goguen, the longtime venture capitalist who was asked to leave Sequoia Capital following a stunning breach of contract complaint, has just filed a counter complaint in San Mateo County Court that proposes the accusations against him are a myth.
In reaction to claims that Goguen sexually and emotionally abused a woman named Amber Laurel Baptiste for more than a decade, and then failed to follow through on an agreement to pay her $40 million to keep her claims confidential, Goguen is now countersuing Baptiste for extortion.
He’s not holding any punches. In his countersuit, Goguen’s legal team paints a picture of a woman in love with him, and features a long list of text and email messages from Baptiste to underscore that depiction.
Among them: “The love that I hold in my heart for you was instant. It is a perfect love. And to me it is the perfect way to love someone. It is forever and unconditional;” “I love our visits. I feel so blessed to have met you and have been able to maintain a special relationship with you. I can only hope that it continues;” “I know it feels really good when we are together and to me it feels so perfect and I never want to let go of you;” and “I miss you so Much [sic]. My Body Misses you so Much. I love you so Much.”
The counter-complaint also features pictures that Baptiste, born in 1980, had allegedly sent to Goguen of herself dressed in lacy lingerie.
Goguen had joined Sequoia Capital in 1996, five years after getting his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford. (The now-52-year-old studied electrical engineering as an undergrad at Cornell.)
In her complaint, Baptiste’s legal firm had written that Baptiste was abused by Goguen “sexually, physically and emotionally for over 13 years” and across three of his former marriages, beginning soon after she was brought to the U.S. as a “victim of human trafficking.”
Her complaint provides excruciatingly detailed accusations of these alleged abuses, including “countless hours of forced sodomy, verbal abuse,” and other “demeaning rituals.” In a particularly disturbing characterization, Baptiste’s complaint states that Goguen severely injured her during sex, then left her to “seek emergency medical aid alone in a foreign country, nearly hemorrhaging to death.”
But in Goguen’s counter-complaint, it says that, “Far from being ‘forcibly sodomized’ and ‘left bleeding alone on the floor of a hotel room . . . nearly hemorrhaging to death,’ the supposed [injury] 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.'”
“[Baptiste] wrote of that night: ‘I would never erase that night for anything. It was beautiful each and every moment;’ ‘The last night together was really incredible for me. I could feel so many things moving between us that I have not felt before. Hopefully I will feel you again soon.'”
Goguen’s counter-complaint goes on to assert that once “scorned,” Baptiste’s tone changed dramatically.
She allegedly began to make “malicious allegations” that “frightened Mr. Goguen—not only for what they would do to his personal and professional reputation, but also the devastation such allegations would wreak on his family. When faced with the false and libelous claims she has now asserted in this lawsuit, Mr. Goguen wanted Ms. Baptiste to leave him and his family alone, and felt that he had no choice but to pay her to accomplish this.”
Indeed, it says Goguen “acquiesced” to the “$40 million that [Baptiste] was arbitrarily demanding ” on a variety of conditions, including that she “stay away from Mr. Goguen and stop her harassment.” Yet according to his counter-complaint, after Goguen made the first of the four payments, for $10 million, “Ms. Baptiste resumed her campaign of harassment, sending thousands of text messages after signing the document, including ones that disparaged Mr. Goguen and his family and threatened to send him to jail unless he accelerated the payment schedule.”
Baptiste’s complaint includes a copy of the agreement. It states that: “For a period of time, Amber and Michael were involved in a personal relationship. Amber had prepared and contemplated filing a lawsuit against Michael seeking monetary damages for personal injury and other claims arising from their prior relationship. Michael desires that all details relating to their relationship remain confidential, and Amber is willing to agree thereto.”
It also states: “Michael specifically bargained for the confidentiality provisions in this agreement, and without them he would not have agreed to pay any amount of consideration to Amber.”
The contract then outlines a payment schedule for four payouts totaling $40 million that was to be fully transferred to Baptiste by last December.
Baptiste, who is characterized in Goguen’s cross-complaint as a Canadian native who in 2002 “entered into a sham marriage” to obtain her U.S. citizenship and now lives in L.A., is seeking the enforcement of that settlement agreement, along with attorney’s fees and other compensatory damages.
Goguen is meanwhile seeking “compensation for all damages and losses caused by Ms. Baptiste’s extortion, including but not limited to return of the $10 million she extorted from him.”
Goguen was asked to leave Sequoia last week. Reached Friday about Baptiste’s complaint, a Sequoia spokesman wrote us, “We first learned of these claims [Thursday]. We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Nevertheless, we decided that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”
In Whitefish, Montana, where Goguen has a home, he has been a “hero” to many locals owing to his philanthropic efforts, says one source who vacations there. Among his local contributions: a trail system called The Whitefish Trail and two state-of-the-art helicopters furnished on behalf on the local search and rescue program.
According to a recent report by a local outlet called the Flathead Beacon, Goguen has invested “untold millions more into an assortment of local causes and community investments, as well as business ventures,” including a local bar and a Montana company that produces rifles and barrels for the U.S. military. The article says that in 2014, Goguen further donated “$2 million over five years to the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force in an effort to protect kids from online predators.”
“I don’t know what more can be said,” the chairman of a local non-profit told The Missoulian in 2012 of Goguen.
“He’s a great and gracious guy. I’m impressed that a gentleman who’s been so successful in his professional career would find it in his heart to do this for the community. He’s a very modest and quiet man. He’s humble and soft-spoken.”
The full counter-complaint can be found here.