California Judge Rules that Woman Extorted Goguen

Judge says Amber Laurel Baptiste committed fraud and extortion in making false claims about Whitefish philanthropist

By Myers Reece

A California judge has granted Whitefish philanthropist Michael Goguen his second court victory in a legal battle between the venture capitalist and his former mistress, Amber Laurel Baptiste, ruling that Baptiste’s explosive claims that Goguen had sexually and physically abused her and infected her with a sexually transmitted disease, among other claims, were made falsely as part of an extortion plot.

The judge’s decision echoes a separate criminal case in which a man named Bryan Gregg Waterfield Nash is indicted under federal charges for stalking and attempting to extort Goguen by making similar allegations. Nash was arraigned in August.

In his statement of decision last month, Judge Danny Chou of the California Superior Court in San Mateo County found that Baptiste committed fraud and extortion and imposed a restraining order prohibiting her from repeating a long list of “false and defamatory statements.”

“Ms. Baptiste intentionally fabricated a vicious and highly damaging story about Mr. Goguen, casting herself as the victim – and media organizations around the world repeated her tale,” Diane Doolittle, one of Goguen’s attorneys, said in a Jan. 3 statement.

“After hearing the evidence, a court has found that each and every one of Ms. Baptiste’s vile claims about Mr. Goguen were false, and that she had, in fact, engaged in a campaign of extortion and premeditated fraud to illegally obtain millions of dollars from Mr. Goguen.”

The ruling comes three months after a California Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County tossed out a 2016 lawsuit filed by Baptiste in which she originally made the claims. The judge said Baptiste failed to undergo medical examinations and produce other documents necessary in the discovery process, leading to the case’s termination.

After details of Baptiste’s lawsuit were publicly revealed, Sequoia Capital, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm where Goguen was a managing partner, announced he was no longer with the firm.

Chou’s ruling, meanwhile, was the culmination of a counter-lawsuit filed by Goguen in response to Baptiste’s litigation. Chou ruled in favor of Goguen on all nine counts in his counter-lawsuit.

“As in September, when her lawsuit against Mr. Goguen was dismissed, a court has once again found that Ms. Baptiste committed perjury and concealed, destroyed and falsified evidence,” Doolittle said. “The court also found that she threatened Mr. Goguen and his family and engaged in a prolonged, persistent and ongoing campaign of defamation on social media in which she repeated her many false claims.”

“Judge Chou has ordered Ms. Baptiste to stop harassing Mr. Goguen and his family,” Doolittle added. “Time will tell whether she heeds this ruling or continues to behave as if she is above the law.”

In May 2018, the law firm representing Baptiste, Sherman Law Group, filed a motion to be relieved as her counsel, citing “irreconcilable differences” and “a complete breakdown in communications.” Baptiste didn’t respond to messages sent by the Beacon to her Facebook account on Jan. 3.

Baptiste and Goguen engaged in an affair for more than a decade. In Baptiste’s now-dismissed lawsuit, she claimed Goguen had agreed to pay her $40 million “as compensation for the horrors she suffered at his hands” but only paid her one installment of $10 million, leading her to file the breach-of-contract litigation.

But in his countersuit, Goguen said he agreed to pay the $40 million “under duress” to keep her from making false public statements that she was threatening. In Goguen’s complaint, he said he quit making payments after the first $10 million because “Baptiste’s campaign of harassment and threats continued,” violating their agreement for her to cease communication and breaking a confidentiality agreement.

Chou’s statement of decision says Baptiste sent Goguen nearly 1,600 text messages after the first $10 million, and after he stated he wouldn’t pay the rest, she continued sending him a “barrage of text messages over the next 15 months, accusing Goguen of numerous crimes and misdeeds and threatening to sue him.”

Chou ordered Baptiste to pay Goguen back the $10 million plus an additional $250,000 donation he had made to a charity that Baptiste established. Chou found that Baptiste didn’t spend the money on charitable purposes but rather used it to “commission fantasy paintings for her own personal benefit.”

Chou’s decision also stated that Baptiste fabricated her STD test results and made false statements about her age, injuries and other matters.

Goguen is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit filed by Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial alleging Goguen attempted to influence a criminal investigation. Dial also alleges that Goguen retaliated against him and sought to end the chief’s employment.

However, in documents sent to Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST), which oversees law enforcement training and certification in the state, Goguen accuses Dial of inappropriate behavior. The POST documents include email communications between Dial and Nash, the man under federal indictment for stalking and attempting to extort Goguen, and also make repeated references to Baptiste, describing her and Nash as co-conspirators in spreading false rumors to prompt Dial’s department to criminally investigate Goguen.

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