Goguen Denies Sex-Abuse Accusations, Sues Woman for Extortion

Prominent Whitefish philanthropist files countersuit in California court after allegations surface

By Dillon Tabish
Michael Goguen speaks in Kalispell on Sept. 19, 2014. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Michael Goguen, a prominent philanthropist and part-time resident in Whitefish, has filed a countersuit in California, claiming he is the victim of extortion and denying allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

The 41-page cross-complaint, filed Monday in San Mateo County Superior Court, states Goguen carried on a consensual sexual relationship with Amber Laurel Baptiste for over a decade while he was married to other women.

Attorneys for Goguen claim Baptiste wanted him to make a greater commitment to her and became “consumed by anger, obsession and jealousy” after the relationship ended in 2013. Baptiste “concluded that if she could not have Mr. Goguen’s heart, at least she could have his money,” the attorneys state.

“To accomplish her scheme, Ms. Baptiste launched a campaign of harassment designed to inflict as much pain as possible on Mr. Goguen and his family, including threatening to publicly accuse Mr. Goguen of false, horrific acts unless he paid her $40 million in hush money,” the legal response states.

The countersuit comes nearly a week after attorneys for Baptiste filed a breach of contract complaint against Goguen that includes accusations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse over the course of 13 years, and a claim that Goguen reneged on a contractual agreement to pay Baptiste $40 million to keep the details of their relationship confidential.

Baptiste’s lawsuit claims Goguen also paid Baptiste’s living expenses and other costs, including medical bills, for over a decade in exchange for maintaining their sexual relationship. The complaint, which contains graphic descriptions of alleged abuse, claims that the relationship regularly included verbal and physical abuse, nonconsensual sex and “demeaning sexual acts.”

Following the allegations, Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California, severed ties with Goguen, who has served as a managing partner at the prominent firm since 1996.

In a statement to the Beacon, Goguen explained he filed the detailed countersuit in an effort to defend his reputation.

“Unfortunately anyone can make horrific allegations about anyone else that they have an axe to grind with, especially after a long relationship ends badly,” Goguen stated. “Being successful and high profile can make you a target for the worst kind of threats or reputation damage in such a situation.”

According to her attorneys, Baptiste has been a victim of human trafficking since she was 15. In 2001, she was brought to America and sold as a dancer to a strip club. Baptiste was introduced to Goguen at a strip club in Texas when she was 22, according to court records.

Goguen’s countersuit includes excerpts from text messages and more than 50 emails purportedly from Baptiste expressing her love and affection for him, illustrating the consensual nature of the relationship, according to Goguen’s attorneys. The filing states that Baptiste wanted him to be her life partner and father of her children.

According to Goguen’s attorneys, he “was generous with Ms. Baptiste and wanted to help her to have a better life. Over the years, he provided her with hundreds of thousands of dollars. This enabled her to quit her job as a ‘dancer’ and pursue her interests without needing to worry about finances, or even having to work.”

Throughout the duration of their relationship, Goguen informed Baptiste that he was married, and Baptiste became increasingly jealous and delusional, according to the countersuit.

After Goguen attempted to break off the relationship, Baptiste hired an attorney and threatened to go public with “false and heinous claims of sexual assault and sexual exploitation,” according to his countersuit.

According to her attorneys, Baptiste threatened to sue Goguen seeking money “as compensation for the horrors she suffered at his hands.” She retained an attorney who drafted a complaint for personal injury and a demand letter for mediation. After receiving the draft complaint, Goguen convinced Baptiste to fire her attorney and rely on his attorneys to draft a settlement agreement, according to Baptiste’s lawsuit.

According to Goguen, he agreed in May 2014 to pay Baptiste $40 million. He acknowledges paying Baptiste the first installment of $10 million “to protect his family’s privacy and reputation, and to buy peace from Ms. Baptiste’s inflammatory accusations.” Goguen claims Baptiste broke the pair’s agreement by continuing to contact him and harass him, including by making demeaning remarks about his wife.

In December 2014, Goguen sent a letter to Baptiste rescinding the contract and claiming the agreement was null and void because it was procured under extortion, court records state.

“Ms. Baptiste’s blatant abuse of the legal system has left Mr. Goguen with no choice but to answer her charges with specific facts of a highly personal nature, precisely what he was seeking to avoid when he was extorted by Ms. Baptiste nearly two years ago,” the countersuit states.

Goguen is alleging extortion, rescission, declaration of relief, breach of contract and invasion of privacy and is seeking a civil restraining order. He is also seeking the return of $10 million and the award of additional damages. Baptiste is seeking the remaining $30 million and the award of additional damages.

Goguen built a home along Whitefish Lake over a decade ago and has become a well-known philanthropist in the community. He donated a large land easement and spent over $10 million in personal funds on an expansive state trust land plan that transformed into the popular Whitefish Trail. He has invested untold millions more into an assortment of local causes and community investments, as well as business ventures, including Casey’s Bar and PROOF Research.

His contributions include Two Bear Air, a search and rescue resource and aviation program that includes two helicopters that serve the Pacific Northwest. Goguen has invested over $11 million in the program and covers all of its operating costs.

In 2014, Goguen donated $2 million over five years to the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force in an effort to protect kids from online predators.

Goguen is represented in the countersuit by attorney Diane Doolittle, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. Baptiste is represented by Patricia Glaser, of Flaser, Weil, Fink, Howard, Avchen & Shapiro LLP.

»»» Click here to read Goguen’s countersuit (Warning: Documents contain graphic details)

»»» Click here to read Baptiste’s suit (Warning: Documents contain graphic details)

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