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Elizabeth Holmes accuses ex-lover, Theranos-partner of abuse


The 14 jurors, including two alternates, listened attentively but with little visible emotion as Holmes described her relationship with Balwani.

Balwani faces fraud allegations mirroring those against Holmes in another trial scheduled to begin early next year. He and Holmes ended their relationship in May 2016 after she moved out of the Silicon Valley home that they shared for years while keeping their romantic relationship concealed.

Federal prosecutors wanted to try Balwani alongside Holmes, but US District Judge Edward Davila separated the proceedings because of the possibility that Holmes would blame some of her behaviour on “intimate partner abuse.”

Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s lawyer, has vehemently denied Holmes’ abuse allegations. Although Coopersmith was present for Holmes’ testimony on Monday, Balwani couldn’t be there because he is prohibited from being in the courtroom in Holmes’ presence.

Holmes’ portrait of Balwani stood in sharp contrast to other testimony indicating that he always deferred to Holmes — the subject of flattering business profiles likening her to a female version of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who she adopted as one of her role models.

Holmes briefly became a paper billionaire while promising that Theranos could provide more convenient and cheaper tests scanning for hundreds of potential health problems using just a few drops of blood. Conventional tests typically require a vial of blood drawn from a vein.

Her pitch helped Theranos raise nearly SUS1 billion from sophisticated investors and attract an impressive board of directors including former Cabinet secretaries from the administrations of presidents from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.

The company collapsed after a series of explosive articles in the Wall Street Journal and regulatory audits revealed rampant inaccuracies in Theranos’ blood tests.

Treacly texts

In her testimony, Holmes said most people didn’t realise how much Balwani controlled her because most of his alleged abuse occurred outside the office. Her condemnation of Balwani contrasted with some of the treacly texts she sent addressing him as “tiger.”

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During a flurry of texts in April 2016, about a month before her romance with Balwani ended, Holmes quoted the poet Maya Angelou. “In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world there is no love for you like mine,” Holmes told him.

Under questioning by one of her attorneys, Holmes acknowledged that Balwani never told her what to say to the investors she is now accused of deceiving.

She also testified that Balwani didn’t influence her discussions with Walgreens and Safeway, two major retailers that agreed to use Theranos’ blood-testing technology before backing out after discovering it wasn’t performing as she promised.

Holmes instead says she did everything she could to clean up the problems at Theranos in an effort to realise her ambitions. But she also said she couldn’t explain all the different ways Balwani affected her during the years they were together.

“He wasn’t who I thought he was,” Holmes said, adding that Balwani “impacted everything about who I was, and I don’t fully understand that.”

Holmes will return to the witness stand on Tuesday [local time] when prosecutors will get their first chance to grill her under oath.

AP

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