CNBC’s Scott Cohn joins Shep Smith to report on the trial of Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes, and what she said on the witness stand today. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
“He would get very angry with me and then he would sometimes come upstairs to our bedroom and force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he wanted me to know that he still loved me,” said Holmes, occasionally fighting back tears.
When asked how Balwani’s behavior affected her relationship with her family, Holmes said it was particularly damaging.
“I saw them less than I’d ever seen them before and I spoke to them less than I had ever spoke to them before,” she said. “Because I was trying to focus all of my time on the company. Sunny would get very upset if I was with my family. He said it was a distraction to the business.”
Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s attorney, declined to comment.
During the trial’s first 11 weeks, the prosecution called to the stand former lab directors, patients, doctors, business partners and investors, as well as journalist Roger Parloff, who wrote the 2014 Fortune magazine cover story, “This CEO Is Out For Blood.”
The prosecution rested on Nov. 19, and later that day the defense surprised the courtroom in calling Holmes as a witness. The Stanford University dropout and former Silicon Valley wunderkind could spend up to two decades in prison if she’s convicted. She pleaded not guilty.
Balwani, who’s 20 years older than Holmes, faces the same charges and will be on trial at a later date. He also pleaded not guilty.
Holmes started Theranos in 2003. Balwani joined six years later and, until his departure in 2016, served as Holmes’ second-in-command. In testimony last week, Holmes said Balwani was in charge of operating the company’s labs and handling financial projections.
Holmes told jurors on Monday that she met Balwani in China. She was 18 at the time, and he was 38.
“I understood that he’d been a really successful business person, that he worked with Bill Gates in the early days of Microsoft,” Holmes said. “I talked to him about wanting to start a company, and a company that I tried to build in high school and I asked for his advice.”
While she was studying at Stanford the following school year, Holmes said Balwani would email her. Holmes dropped out of Stanford her sophomore year to work on the company that became Theranos.
Kevin Downey, Holmes’ attorney, asked if there were other reasons she left Stanford.
“I was raped,” a crying Holmes said. (Police agencies told CNBC that they had no record of a report under Holmes’ name.)
She was then asked about the affect that experience had on her life.
“I was questioning what, how I was going to be able to process that experience and what I was going to do with my life,” she said. “And I decided I was going to build a life by building this company.”
Downey asked Holmes whether she talked to Balwani about the incident. Holmes said she did and that, “He said that I was safe now that I had met him.”
During the prosecution’s case, Holmes was painted by a series of witnesses as Theranos’ undisputed leader and the person singularly responsible for all of its key decisions. She picked board members, met with investors and arranged business meetings with potential partners.
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