Major Kasich backer embroiled in sex-slave suit

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Michael Isikoff
·Chief Investigative Correspondent
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Michael Goguen (Photo: Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon)

The super-PAC backing John Kasich’s candidacy said Tuesday it will turn over a $250,000 contribution from embattled Silicon Valley investor Michael Goguen to nonprofit groups fighting human trafficking — as a result of allegations in a lawsuit that he “sexually abused” a woman for 13 years, including subjecting her to “countless hours of forced sodomy.”

The statement from the pro-Kasich New Day for America was made in response to an inquiry from Yahoo News about the lurid allegations in a lawsuit filed by Amber Laurel Baptiste, which prompted Goguen’s employer, Sequoia Capital, to oust him last weekend. Goguen had been a managing partner in the prominent venture-capital firm.

The decision to give away Goguen’s contribution, one of the largest the super-PAC had received, came just after Kasich’s presidential campaign told Yahoo News that it would return $2,700 it got from Goguen last August, the same week he donated to the pro-Kasich super-PAC.

“Upon learning of these allegations, New Day for America decided we will donate Michael Goguen’s contribution in its entirety to organizations committed to ending human trafficking,” Connie Wehrkamp, a spokeswoman for the super-PAC, said in an email at 5:10 p.m.

Contacted Tuesday by Yahoo News, Kasich campaign press spokesman Chris Schrimpf emailed at 4:55 p.m.: “This is the first we’ve heard of this and are in the process of giving the money to charity.”

On Wednesday, Diane Doolittle, a lawyer for Goguen, said in an emailed statement:

“This lawsuit is a vile collection of lies and a transparent attempt to destroy the reputation and good name of Mr. Goguen. The overwhelming evidence — as cited in our Cross Complaint for extortion — shows that she is a disgruntled former lover who had a consensual relationship with him starting in her 20s. This isn’t a case of human trafficking, but an age old story of a jilted lover looking for revenge. We are eager to fight these defamatory and outlandish allegations and tell the truth. We look forward to our day in court, where facts trump fiction.”

The allegations in the lawsuit have reportedly shocked Silicon Valley, especially after Goguen in a countersuit this week denied the woman was his “sex slave” but acknowledged that he paid her the first $10 million of a $40 million contract that he claimed was a “shakedown.”

But unnoticed in the saturation media coverage of the case so far was Goguen’s role as a major Republican Party donor: In addition to the contributions to Kasich and his super-PAC, he also in recent years donated $33,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $32,400 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and $10,000 each to the Republican Party of Ohio and Montana, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition, he donated $8,100 to Utah Sen. Mike Lee last year, $2,016 to the Draft Ben Carson for President Committee in 2014, and $2,600 to Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign committee in March 2014.

The allegations in the lawsuit against Goguen in Superior Court in San Mateo County, Calif., are sordid. Baptiste, who claims she had been “the victim of human trafficking since she was 15 years old,” came to the U.S. in 2001. According to her lawsuit, she met Goguen at a strip club in Texas where she was a dancer. After promising to help her, she alleges, he repeatedly subjected her to unwanted sexual acts and gave her a sexually transmitted disease. She describes him as “a worse predator than the human traffickers who were keeping her in bondage.”

Goguen, in his countersuit, denies any wrongdoing and describes Baptiste as a woman “consumed by anger, obsession and jealousy” after their “mutually consensual love affair” ended. As evidence, he quoted from undated email and text messages he says she sent him with lines like “The love that I hold in my heart for you was instant” and “I could never even make love to you enough times to show you how special you are to me.”

Sorting out the claims and counterclaims will be up to the court. But Sequoia Capital isn’t waiting.

“We understand the allegations about Michael Goguen are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia,” the firm tweeted over the weekend. “Still, we decided his departure was appropriate.”