Stanford University has reversed its 10-year ban on popular Silicon Valley venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale (Stanford ’04) now that an alumna he mentored has dropped her lawsuit against him, The Stanford Daily reported on Monday.
Lonsdale, who cofounded big data intelligence startup Palantir, was banned from stepping foot on campus after a 2013 investigation into allegations of sexual assault by an undergraduate student.
Earlier this year, Elise Clougherty (Stanford ’13), filed a lawsuit accusing Lonsdale of “a sexually, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship.”
Lonsdale, who is also a founder of the VC firm Formation 8, filed a countersuit claiming their relationship was consensual.
Clougherty dropped her lawsuit on Monday, and Stanford subsequently lifted its ban on Lonsdale.
“As a result of new evidence that came to light during litigation between Mr. Lonsdale and Ms. Clougherty, the investigator in a Stanford University Title IX matter involving both parties has determined that Mr. Lonsdale did not violate Stanford’s Title IX policy,” university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin told The Daily.
“Accordingly, there is no basis to support a ban from the Stanford campus.”
Lonsdale and Clougherty met through a mutual friend in New York when she was a Stanford student, according to court documents that Business Insider previously reported on. About a year later, Lonsdale served as an official mentor for Clougherty in a Stanford tech entrepreneurship program. The two entered into a relationship, which lasted for about a year, between 2012 and 2013.
Clougherty claims in her suit that Lonsdale handpicked her to be his mentee, deliberately started a relationship with her, and over the course of the year became increasingly abusive and forced her to have sex without her consent.
Lonsdale has denied the claims in her suit, saying in a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal that he was the subject of a “vengeful, personal attack by a disturbed former girlfriend.”
In her lawsuit, Clougherty alleged that Stanford had enlisted an outside investigator to look into her allegations and that the investigator largely sided with her.
That investigator found, according to the lawsuit, that “more likely than not that [Ms. Clougherty] expressed to [Mr. Lonsdale] that she did not want to engage in the sexual conduct in question, but that [Mr. Lonsdale] did not comply with [her] request.”
Lonsdale denied that any of that happened. His countersuit claimed he never had an influence over her grade in her technology-entrepreneurship class, and when they entered into a relationship it was completely consensual. He produced quotes from numerous emails to back up his points. He was asking for $US150,000 total in damages, plus punitive damages and the costs of the lawsuit.
In addition to the countersuit, Lonsdale put up a website defending his side of the story.
In January, Lonsdale’s VC fund, Formation 8, provided this statement to Business Insider:
These allegations are inconsistent with the partner we have come to know over the past few years. Moreover, we have very clear employment procedures at Formation 8, and Ms. Clougherty was never an employee of Formation 8. This is obviously a highly personal situation for Joe, and we have agreed to allow him whatever time he needs to address this matter. Formation 8 intends to promptly seek to dismiss these baseless claims against the firm.
Clougherty’s lawyers sent Business Insider this statement in January:
Ms. Clougherty expected Mr. Lonsdale and his attorney to release a self-serving PR campaign of denial. She will certainly give Mr. Lonsdale a full opportunity to explain his conduct in this litigation and looks forward to hearing Mr. Lonsdale’s statements when he is under oath and subject to cross-examination.” Ms. Clougherty knows the truth and is confident that her lawsuit will reveal it to the public.
Lonsdale’s representative did not provide Business Insider with a comment on the record when we reached out to them in January.
A lawyer for Elise Clougherty replied to Business Insider’s request for comment this week saying, “The case has resolved.”
We reached out to Lonsdale’s attorney and will update this post if we hear back.
This post was updated using prior reporting by Shane Ferro.
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