All charges against former Vungle CEO Zain Jaffer, including sexual abuse of a child, have been dropped. According to a statement from Jaffer’s representatives, San Mateo County Judge Stephanie Garratt dismissed the charges today. Jaffer was arrested last October and charged with several serious offenses, including a lewd act on one of his children, child abuse and battery on a police officer.
The dismissal is confirmed by San Mateo County Superior Court’s online records. The case (number 17NF012415A) had been scheduled to go to jury trial in late August.
Jaffer, whose full name is Zainali Jaffer, said in a statement that:
Being wrongfully accused of these crimes has been a terrible experience, which has had a deep and lasting impact on my family and the employees of my business. Those closest to me knew I was innocent and were confident that all of the charges against me would eventually be dismissed. I want to thank the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for carefully reviewing and considering all of the information and evidence in this case and dropping all the charges. I am also incredibly grateful for the continued and unwavering support of my wife and family, and look forward to spending some quality time with them.
Vungle, the fast-rising mobile ad startup Jaffer co-founded in 2011, removed him from the company immediately after they learned about the charges in October. TechCrunch has contacted Vungle and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for comment.
Edited to add: The San Francisco Chronicle has more information about why the charges were dropped. San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Sharon Cho told the newspaper they were dismissed due to insufficient evidence and that the defense had provided medical records for Jaffer showing he had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and was on prescription medication that led to the incident.
Though prosecutors initially believed Jaffer had been under the influence of LSD, Cho said “what changed was when the defense presented this information, that the act was a result not of LSD but of underlying mental illness that had never been diagnosed. Ultimately, the people have the burden of proving that’s not the case, and when we reevaluated, we felt the evidence was not such that we could meet that burden.”
Update, July 20: The Chronicle has since amended its story with this statement from the San Mateo district attorney’s office:
We do not believe that there was any sexual conduct by Mr. Jaffer that evening and for this reason we dismissed the sexual abuse charges. The physical injury charges were separately dismissed because we believe that the injuries were the result of Mr. Jaffer being in a state of unconsciousness caused by prescription medication.