The day after tech investor Shervin Pishevar took a leave of absence from Hyperloop One and Sherpa Capital in the wake of sexual assault and harassment allegations, the firm he accused of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against him struck back with a counterclaim—accusing Pishevar of willfully spreading false information.
Last month, just days before Fast Company reported that Pishevar had been arrested (but not charged) on suspicion of rape in London, he sued a GOP-run political oppo research firm, Definers Public Affairs. In that lawsuit, Pishevar claimed that the firm had been hired by “one or more of his business competitors” in order to “assassinate” Pishevar’s character and to “destroy his career.”
Today, Definers fired back, filing a motion to dismiss the suit and claiming that Pishevar sued the firm as part of a cover-up. Pishevar’s goal, the firm claims, was to “intimidate women and the press from revealing reports of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment.” Definers’ claim is based on California’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) law, which is intended to prevent malicious or frivolous lawsuits that intimidate people and chill free speech. In the complaint, Definers argues that Pishevar “used this suit to harass and intimidate one woman whom the press has named as one of his alleged victims by serving her with a subpoena to depose her.”
In the Bloomberg story detailing the allegations against Pishevar, reporter Emily Chang wrote that Pishevar’s legal actions had already had an impact, and that several of his accusers who had originally agreed to be identified by name, “withdrew their names, citing the legal risks of speaking out” in the wake of his lawsuit.
In a statement regarding the motion, Definers strongly denied being part of a “smear campaign,” calling the claim “delusional and entirely without merit.” It added: “He has completely fabricated that Definers or anyone working for Definers had any role in this matter.” According to the motion, Definers “have searched and confirmed that they do not have any emails or documents reflecting any engagements, communications, or work related to Mr. Pishevar before the filing of the Complaint.”
A rep for Pishevar declined comment, explaining that the investor’s legal team has yet to review the motion.