Are the allegations against Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington fit to print?
Most media outlets and tech sites have been shying away, but the story has been buzzing across the web anyway, most notably on Gawker (The Daily Beast has been running updates on its Cheat Sheet). It is hard to know whether this widespread reluctance has to do with an innate caution or the desire to avoid crossing one of the most influential players in Silicon Valley.
Now that Arrington has denied the allegations, it seems fair to take note of what is being said. Arrington, who sold Tech Crunch to AOL for $30 million, left the site in 2011 after a dispute with Arianna Huffington over whether he could simultaneously launch a venture capital fund.
Jenn Allen, a former Arrington girlfriend who is chief executive of the startup company RTist.com, began the drama with a broadside on her Facebook page. She said she loved Arrington for more than eight years but now can’t get herself out of bed:
“It hurts when you love someone borderline and they can't feel anything at all for you, and threaten to murder you if you told anyone about the physical abuse - all for keeping his reputation.”
Why Allen would be saying this now, when they dated years ago, is unclear.
Then, as Gawker reported, Allen upped the ante in a posted comment with an allegation about Arrington and a friend of hers: “He raped her, and she told me in person he called her to confirm he did it after the fact.”
These are obviously extremely serious allegations, yet virtually impossible for any outsider to prove without evidence. Allen said nothing about filing any charges. But the story soon expanded beyond her with this Gawker item:
“Gawker has learned of two previous instances, a decade apart, in which Arrington was accused of violent, abusive behavior towards women. One—in which a coworker and ex-girlfriend accused him of assaulting her in a hotel room—resulted in an internal investigation by his then-employer. In the other incident, he allegedly threw a different girlfriend against a wall. Neither episode ended in any real fallout for Arrington.”
On Monday, Arrington posted this statement on his Uncrunched blog:
“There have been some extremely serious and criminal allegations against me over the last week. All of the allegations are completely untrue, and I’ve hired a law firm to represent me in the legal actions against the offending parties.
“I know this isn’t, for now, much information. I will have a full and complete response to these allegations sometime later this week. My goal will be to direct as much sunlight as possible on the issues so that the absolute truth can be known and I can begin to put my life back together.
“I’ve also asked my attorneys to contact appropriate law enforcement agencies about these false allegations. Given the gravity of the claims, I think it’s important that the police be involved in this now.”
Two friends of Arrington’s have also stepped forward to defend him.
The question of whether the story is fit for publication is now moot. By hiring lawyers and calling for police involvement, Arrington has thrust the matter into the public spotlight. And we likely haven’t heard the last of it.