Theranos founder expected to argue abuse from ex-boyfriend marred ability to make decisions

Theranos founder expected to argue abuse from ex-boyfriend marred ability to make decisions
© Getty

The founder of the now-defunct blood testing startup Theranos is expected to argue in a trial that she suffered abuse by her ex-boyfriend that affected her ability to make decisions, according to newly unsealed court filings, NPR reported.

The court filings, which were released early Saturday, indicate that Elizabeth Holmes will likely testify in her own trial. “Ms. Holmes is likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on, and deferred to Mr. Balwani,” a legal filing from February said, according to The Washington Post.

Holmes is facing multiple counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after an investigation by the Wall Street Journal in 2015 cast doubt on the reliability of Theranos’s product, The Post noted.


Her ex-boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former president of Theranos, is also embroiled in his own trial.

The newly unsealed court filings come as jury selection for Holmes’s trial is slated to start Tuesday.

News of the filings are significant because they indicate Holmes’s possible defense strategy. One filing noted that Holmes is expected to say that she suffered sexual and physical abuse by Balwani, including that he threw "hard, sharp objects" at her, according to NPR.

"This pattern of abuse and coercive control continued over the approximately decade-long duration of Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani's relationship, including during the period of the charged conspiracies," the filing states, NPR reported.

The Post reported a February filing noted that “Ms. Holmes plans to introduce evidence that Mr. Balwani verbally disparaged her and withdrew ‘affection if she displeased him’; controlled what she ate, how she dressed, how much money she could spend, who she could interact with — essentially dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions.” 

Balwani’s lawyers, Jeffrey Coopersmith, wrote in a filing that "Ms. Holmes' allegations are deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him,” according to NPR.