Michael Goguen, a longtime partner at Sequoia Capital who joined the tony Sand Hill Road firm roughly 20 years ago, has been named in an extraordinary breach of contract lawsuit that accuses him of sexually mistreating a woman he met in 2001, then refusing to honor a financial arrangement they made in more recent years to keep her from suing him.
Filed in San Mateo County court on Tuesday of last week, Goguen is accused of having abused the plaintiff, named Amber Laurel Baptiste, “sexually, physically and emotionally for over 13 years.” More centrally, states the complaint: When Baptiste “could no longer tolerate his behavior,” Goguen signed a contract to pay her $40 million “as compensation for the horrors she suffered at his hands.” But “after paying her $10 million, Mr. Goguen refused to honor the rest of his agreement.”
Baptiste could not be reached for comment Friday night. Her attorney, Patricia Glaser of the L.A.-based litigation firm GlaserWeil, is traveling in Israel, according to her office; she has not responded to an emailed request for comment.
Goguen’s attorney, Diane Doolittle, the co-chair of the national trial practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, meanwhile wrote us a statement Friday night, saying: “On Monday, we will be filing a legal cross-complaint against [Baptiste] alleging extortion. The cross complaint will include an enormous amount of evidence, and cite contemporaneous emails and texts, that will help paint a full and complete picture of this entire matter. We will rely on all of this evidence to mount the most vigorous defense possible in court.”
Either way, Goguen looks to be out of a job suddenly. Reached Friday night for more information, a Sequoia spokesman wrote us that, “We first learned of these claims yesterday. We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Nevertheless, we decided that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”
In Baptiste’s complaint, she is described as a “victim of human trafficking since she was 15.” It says that she was “brought to America in 2001,” “sold as a dancer to a strip club,” and that shortly after her arrival, she met Goguen at a Texas strip club and was soon submitting to his “constant sexual abuse” and “relying on his promise that he would help her break free of the human traffickers who held her in perpetual debt.”
Continues the complaint, “Unbeknownst to Ms. Baptiste, Mr. Goguen was a worse predator than the human traffickers who were keeping her in bondage.”