The attorneys for Michael Goguen, a venture capitalist and philanthropist who lives in Whitefish part time, have filed a response to a lawsuit that claims their client sexually and physically abused a woman during a relationship that lasted more than a decade.
In a cross-complaint filed in San Mateo County, California, Goguen argues that Amber Baptiste’s lawsuit amounts to extortion and denies all claims of the alleged abuse.
Baptiste filed her suit against Goguen on March 8, alleging that he broke a contract in which he promised to pay her $40 million in exchange for her silence. In the suit, Baptiste’s lawyers claim she was brought to the country by human traffickers at the age of 15, and met Goguen in a Texas strip club in 2001. He allegedly began to pay her living expenses and other costs in exchange for a sexual relationship.
Her lawsuit includes a series of alleged graphic sexual and violent acts that Baptiste claims Goguen forced her to perform in the years following their meeting.
In a statement, one of Goguen’s attorneys, Diane Doolittle, said her client is eager to fight the “defamatory and outlandish allegations” Baptiste put forward.
“This lawsuit is a vile collection of lies and a transparent attempt to destroy the reputation and good name of Mr. Goguen,” she said “We look forward to our day in court, where facts trump lies.”
The cross-complaint said Baptiste used the lawsuit to “incite a media firestorm” against Goguen while protecting her from being sued for defamation.
“Consumed by anger, obsession and jealousy that her decade-long, mutually consensual love affair with Mr. Goguen had ended, Ms. Baptiste hatched a plan to get her vengeance,” the cross-complaint says.
It includes selected text messages sent from Baptiste, and says she also sent him hundreds of “provocative photographs and erotic emails,” in an attempt to seduce him.
Goguen is well known in the Flathead Valley for his philanthropic donations, including $10 million to create the Whitefish Trail. He also funds Two Bear Air, a search and rescue organization that operates across the northwest United States. Goguen is also the owner of Flathead companies including Casey’s Bar and PROOF Research.
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Two years ago, Goguen made a $2 million donation that pays for Montana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including paying for a full-time detective in both Missoula and Kalispell.
Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm where Goguen was a managing partner, announced shortly after Baptiste’s lawsuit was filed that Goguen had left the company. In a statement, Goguen said his departure allows him to focus fully on “clearing my name and vigorously pursuing justice.”
Bruce Van Dalsem, one of Goguen’s lawyers, said the narrative laid out in Baptiste’s suit “conflates time a bit” and leads people to believe she was younger than she was when she and Goguen first met. Van Dalsem said Baptiste was born in late 1980 and was 22 years old when they first met, which he said was in early 2002.
The relationship between them continued until January 2014, when Goguen’s attorneys claim Baptiste began to threaten to publicly disclose accusations of abuse against her.
According to the cross-complaint, faced with the potential that Baptiste would use these "false allegations" against him, Goguen felt he had “no choice” but to pay her the $40 million she was requesting. As part of a settlement agreement, which his lawyers refer to as an “extortion agreement,” Baptiste allegedly promised to stay away from Goguen.
“In reality, the only thing that Ms. Baptiste was unhappy about with their relationship was that Mr. Goguen did not requite her ‘forever’ and ‘unconditional’ love and did not want to see her as much as she wanted to see him,” Goguen’s attorneys wrote in their court filing. “In short, she is a woman scorned and, if she is a victim of anything, it is of her own delusions.”
Goguen's lawyers claim Baptiste began to harass him again after the first $10 million payment, including threatening to “send him to jail” if he did not pay the rest faster. Goguen instead decided to cease paying her, telling her that she had broken tenets of their agreement.
Baptiste’s lawsuit seeks the remaining payments as well as other damages, while Goguen’s cross-complaint is asking for a finding that Baptiste had broken the agreement and that his first payment be returned, among other claims.
“Enough is enough. Mr. Goguen is no longer willing to accede to Ms. Baptiste’s threats, whatever the consequences,” his attorneys wrote in the cross-complaint.