Judge awards Goguen $10.25M in counter-claim over contract lawsuit

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Michael Goguen speaks at an event at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot file)

A California judge has ruled in favor of Whitefish philanthropist Michael Goguen in a counter-suit he filed against a woman who claimed that he abused her during their 13-year relationship.

Judge Danny Y. Chou ruled in favor of Goguen in a proposed statement of decision in California Superior Court on Dec. 20 and awarded Goguen $10.25 million in damages. The judge ruled in favor of Goguen’s counter-claims, including extortion, fraud, harassment and invasion of privacy.

The original lawsuit was filed three years ago by Amber Baptiste against Goguen claiming he breached a settlement agreement to pay her $40 million following the end of their relationship. In the lawsuit, she alleged that Goguen subjected her to countless hours of sexual and verbal abuse.

Goguen has continued to deny the allegations and subsequently filed a cross-complaint against Baptiste alleging extortion.

In the decision last month, Goguen was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages against Baptiste and an additional $250,000 against Baptiste and her charity Every Girl Counts.

Goguen responded to the decision on Monday in a post on LinkedIn saying the original lawsuit was designed to damage his reputation.

“It’s been a long and difficult road, but truth and vindication are always worth fighting for,” he wrote.

Goguen says he and his family are extremely grateful to the court system and to law enforcement for helping to reveal the truth and seeing justice served.

“Let’s all be extra vigilant for this hopefully rare but troubling phenomenon — the new-age exploitation of society’s #MeToo sensitivities in order to mask or commit age-old crimes,” he said in the post.

In September 2019, an arbitrator threw out the civil breach-of-contract suit saying that Baptiste repeatedly refused to comply with court orders, thus compromising Goguen’s ability to prepare for trial.

Baptiste filed a lawsuit in March of 2016, alleging that Goguen abused her “sexually, physically and emotionally for 13 years” and accused him of rape and sodomy.

Sequoia Capital later that month parted ways with Goguen after he had spent nearly 20 years with the firm.

Goguen then filed a counterclaim against Baptiste.

Chou’s decision last month found that Baptise’s actions constituted extortion through the “demand letters and her numerous text messages to Goguen after their breakup in October 2013” threatening to expose him for several alleged incidents with the intention of obtaining payment from him.

The court decision also says that Baptiste made several false statements regarding her health and sexual history as it relates to the original settlement agreed upon with Goguen and that he paid the first $10 million installment for, thus committing fraud.

In addition to the damages, Chou also ordered that Baptiste be prohibited from repeating the specific false and defamatory statements that she has made on social media against Goguen and his family.

The ruling also says that Every Girl Counts must pay Goguen $250,000 after Baptiste made many solicitations for donations and in 2013 Goguen wired funds to the organization, according to the lawsuit. However, Every Girl Counts never provided any services to 36 young girls as Baptiste had claimed. Baptiste, court documents state, used part of Goguen’s donation to pay for “fantasy paintings of herself” and not for a charitable purpose.

Goguen has a residence on the west shore of Whitefish Lake.

He was the sole funder of the Two Bear Air rescue helicopter service and provided major funding to the Whitefish Trail system and the North Valley Food Bank. Goguen serves on the board of trustees for Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

He was also the sole investor in Casey’s Bar and Grill in downtown Whitefish.

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