For months we had been speculating internally as to whether or not former Theranos head Elizabeth Holmes would eventually wind up trying to fall back on the "I was abused" card to justify her massive, sprawling fraud.
And while this weekend we got our answer, we have to admit that we never guessed Holmes would blame the abuse on Sunny Balwani, her intra-office boy-toy and former Theranos peer.
Facing 20 years in prison, Holmes' lawyers have told the court they expect Holmes to testify in her own defense during her trial, which is slated to start August 21. Holmes and Balwani have both been charged, but their trials have been separated, according to Bloomberg.
Holmes now claims she "suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety as a result of her relationship with Balwani", Bloomberg reported. Court filings have revealed that Holmes' lawyers plan “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."
Holmes' defense will argue that Balwani was “monitoring her calls, text messages and emails; physical violence, such as throwing hard, sharp objects at her; restricting her sleep; monitoring her movements; and insisting that any success she had was because of him.”
Balwani has denied such allegations. Balwani's lawyers argued to have their trials seperate because “Ms. Holmes’s evidence seeking to establish her innocence would require him to defend against not only the government’s case, but to defend against her allegations as well because her allegations are so inflammatory that they cannot be left unrebutted before the jury.”
Mark MacDougall, a former federal prosecutor, told Bloomberg: “I think the defense has the opportunity to point to the empty chair in the courtroom that would’ve been occupied by Sunny.” Holmes needs to show that her behavior “was a function of emotional and mental pressures,” MacDougall continued.
Holmes' defense lawyers have argued that “as a result of Mr. Balwani’s abusive treatment of her she suffers from Intimate Partner Abuse syndrome (“IPA”) and concurrent post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) such that she cannot be near him without suffering physical distress.”
They continued: “She argues that if she is tried together with Mr. Balwani, she will likely suffer stress and physical ailments that will manifest visually such that she will not appear to the jury in her true sense. She also asserts that there is a risk she will be unable to concentrate in her case and will thus be unable to assist and participate in her defense.”