Elizabeth Holmes Gives Graphic Testimony

Says Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani abused her
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2021 12:32 AM CST
Elizabeth Holmes Gives Graphic Testimony
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, arrives at the federal courthouse for jury selection in her trial, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)

On Monday, Elizabeth Holmes testified to what her defense team has long hinted she would: abuse suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, and the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. Holmes said she got involved with Balwani shortly after being raped while studying at Stanford University, and that he instituted a punishing lifestyle focused on work after Holmes decided to drop out and found Theranos as a way to move forward after the rape. "He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished at my mediocrity, and that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail," Holmes said on the stand. In tears at times, she was handed a box of tissues by the court deputy, the Wall Street Journal reports. She was 18 and Balwani 38 when they met, CNN reports.

Balwani wanted to "kill the person" Holmes was, she testified, and make a "new Elizabeth." She says he implemented a regimen of 4am wake-ups and morning meditation, strict meals he considered "pure," limited time with family, and work seven days a week, and that he criticized her for being too feminine. His abuse was more than just emotional, though, according to Holmes: In what the Journal refers to as graphic testimony, she testified that he sometimes forced her to have sex, including when he was angry, and sometimes physically hurt her while doing so. Balwani has denied Holmes' claims in court documents, the Washington Post reports. The testimony wrapped up the defense's questioning of its client; Holmes will be cross-examined by the prosecution in the criminal fraud trial starting Tuesday. Balwani faces the same charges as Holmes; his trial is scheduled for January. (More Elizabeth Holmes stories.)

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