Sequoia Capital partner departs amid sex abuse allegations

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2016 9:21 PM

(Reuters) - A partner at Sequoia Capital has left, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm said on Sunday, days after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of sexually abusing a woman and not honoring an agreement to compensate her.

In a statement, the partner, Michael Goguen, said the departure would allow him to focus on clearing his name after a relationship ended badly.

Sequoia, one of the earliest U.S. venture capital firms, and Goguen said that the lawsuit had no relation to the firm.

"We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia," a Sequoia spokesman said in a emailed statement. "Nevertheless, we came to the decision that Mike's departure was the appropriate course of action."

The firm first learned of the claims on Thursday, the spokesman said.

A lawsuit filed March 8 in San Mateo County Superior Court in California claims Goguen abused Amber Laurel Baptiste "sexually, physically and emotionally for over 13 years."

Goguen signed a contract to pay Baptiste $40 million as compensation, but after paying her $10 million, Goguen refused to honor the rest of his agreement, according to the lawsuit.

In a statement on LinkedIn, Goguen said: "This entire matter is purely personal and has no connection whatsoever to Sequoia or my years of work at Sequoia," he said, adding that he will file a cross complaint on Monday.

According to his LinkedIn page, Goguen has been leading Sequoia's investments in about a dozen companies.

A lawyer for Goguen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken)