Years of intimate texts cast doubt on Holmes' claim of abusive relationship with ex-Theranos COO

Stephanie Sierra Image
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Intimate texts cast doubt on Holmes' claim of ex-COO's abuse
A day after Holmes' testimony accusing her ex-COO and boyfriend Sunny Balwani of rape, the prosecution painted him as a loving and supportive partner.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Elizabeth Holmes was hesitant to answer simple questions from the prosecution Tuesday while admitting regret for the mistakes she made during her time as CEO of Theranos.

A day after Holmes' emotional testimony accusing her former COO and boyfriend Sunny Balwani of rape, the prosecution painted him as a loving and supportive partner.

RELATED: Elizabeth Holmes accuses ex-boyfriend and Theranos COO Sunny Balwani of rape, coercion

Text messages revealed Holmes often romantically referred to Balwani as 'tiger' and on occasion he would refer to her as 'tigress.'

"The prosecution showed several years of text messages between the two of them where he expressed his love towards her and she did towards him," said legal expert and former prosecutor Michele Hagan. "So that's undermining the potential defense it was an abusive relationship."

Holmes not only testified she ended the relationship with Balwani but admitted she could've fired him at any time. Hagan says the prosecution is trying to prove Holmes and Balwani had the intent to defraud or at least conspired to do so by illustrating evidence they were working together.

"So far that's what we've seen," Hagan said. "The prosecution is illustrating how the two of them had plans together, had goals together, and even showing that the two of them were working together to allegedly defraud the investors and patients."

RELATED: Elizabeth Holmes defense paints her as 'true believer' in Theranos product, admitting some mistakes

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Leach revealed text messages between Holmes and Balwani discussing threatening whistleblowers with lawsuits who were speaking to the Wall Street Journal about Theranos' failed technology. Holmes even testified she contacted the paper's owner Rupert Murdoch, who happened to be a significant shareholder in the company.

Holmes claimed the attempts to reach Murdoch were not to kill the story but to protect the company's trade secrets.

"That will be up to the jury to decide," Hagan said.

Holmes also disclosed she edited out information on company documents sent to Walgreens that appeared as if they were compiled by Pfizer and Schering-Plough. This detail wasn't revealed in previous testimony when she admitted to personally attaching the logos of both companies to the front page of the report.

RELATED: Whistleblower says Theranos bosses manipulated test results

"She also testified she was notified the company's blood testing technology was limited to only 12 assays despite the fact she told investors every kind of blood test could be done in the lab," said Hagan. "That can all implicate her."

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, Hagan says she could face up to 20 years on each charge.

The trial is set to resume next week.

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