New court filings include explosive allegations made by disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes against the company’s former president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, with whom she was in a long-term relationship.
The claims include a wide range of physical and emotional abuse, and may form part of Holmes’ defense in her upcoming fraud trial. The newly unsealed documents also suggest the former Theranos CEO accused Balwani of sexual abuse.
Holmes has considered testifying that Balwani “controlled what she ate, how she dressed, how much money she could spend, [and] who she could interact with,” effectively controlling her and “erasing her capacity to make decisions,” according to documents filed by his attorneys.
The controlling behavior allegedly included monitoring her texts, calls, and emails, “throwing hard, sharp objects at her; restricting her sleep, monitoring her movements” and taking credit for any success Holmes achieved. When Balwani grew unhappy with Holmes’ behavior, he allegedly “withdrew affection.”
The behavior formed part of a “decade-long” cycle of abuse, filings said, which left her with post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.
Insider previously reported on the allegations.
In his own filings published during the winter of 2020, attorneys for Balwani vehemently denied the accusations, calling them “deeply offensive...devastating personally to him, and highly and unfairly prejudicial to his defense.”
Prosecutors also sought to limit certain testimony, saying some of the allegations were not relevant. “The one specific allegation of physical abuse...Balwani throwing a textbook at Holmes, does not appear to resemble the type of repeated physical violence that might result in a diagnosis of Battered Women’s Syndrome,” the government wrote.
At the time, Balwani and Holmes were being charged jointly in the fraud case. Balwani requested his own trial, claiming that the allegations would require him to defend himself both from prosecutors and a fellow defendant.
His lawyers also pushed back against claims that Balwani helped Holmes strategically “cook up” the allegations. “The government continues to baselessly accuse Mr. Balwani of orchestrating the ‘abuse’ defense with Ms. Holmes, resulting in Mr. Balwani’s severance motion,” the filings said.
A judge ultimately granted him an independent trial.
Holmes, 37, reportedly first met Balwani, a married man 19 years her senior, as a teenager. Balwani got divorced soon after, and the pair began dating around the time Holmes founded Theranos, a blood-testing startup that promised it could test for an array of ailments from as little as a drop of blood.
The company’s valuation swelled to $9 billion, before investigative reporting from The Wall Street Journal helped reveal that its technology often did not work.
The pair have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.
Holmes’ trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.