Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who has been accused by multiple unnamed women of sexual misconduct in a recent news report, is now being accused by a Republican-affiliated opposition research firm of spreading false information about it in an attempt to cover up his alleged wrongdoings.
In a bizarre twist on Wednesday, Definers Public Affairs — which Pishevar is suing for allegedly helping to spread a false police report that accuses him of rape — filed a motion to dismiss the investor’s suit in full. That motion, made in San Francisco Superior Court, argues that Pishevar’s lawsuit should be thrown out under California’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) law, which was designed to prevent litigation that is simply meant to silence or intimidate critics by burying them under legal costs.
Pishevar "filed the lawsuit before reporters published their stories, undoubtedly hoping his lawsuit would intimidate women and the press from revealing reports of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment," the motion argues.
Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Pishevar sexually harassed five unnamed women, who had agreed to use their names in the story, but then retracted their permission after learning about Pishevar’s lawsuit and legal tactics. Pishevar originally sued Definers in November, following the publication of stories in multiple outlets about an alleged rape that occurred in London in May. In that suit, the investor accused Definers of disseminating false information about the London incident. A police document, which some outlets used to report on the incident, was later found to have incorrect information, though Pishevar has never denied that the event occurred.
“Mr. Pishevar now seeks to use the American courts to continue his effort to stifle reports of his alleged misconduct,” the motion reads. “But instead of suing any press outlet directly, he has opted for a diversionary tactic: by targeting a PR firm with two founders who formerly worked on Republican campaigns, he hopes to create a false narrative of ‘Republicans vs. Democrats’ as a smokescreen.”
Pishevar was a significant contributor to Democratic politicians. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Democratic senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who received campaign funds from the venture capitalist, have donated that money to charity.
Mark Fabiani, a spokesperson for Pishevar, declined to comment. On Tuesday, Pishevar took a leave of absence from his venture fund Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, where he is coexecutive chairman.
“I have decided to take an immediate leave of absence from my duties at Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, as well as my portfolio company board responsibilities, so that I can pursue the prosecution of my lawsuit, where I am confident I will be vindicated,” Pishevar said in a statement on Tuesday. “Through the discovery process, I hope to unearth who fabricated the fraudulent London ‘police report,’ and who is responsible for spreading false rumors about me.”
In its motion, Definers says it searched through emails and documents and confirmed that they had no records of work related to Pishevar before it was sued. The motion argues that Pishevar filed his suit against Definers in order to possibly stem future stories about him — such as the Bloomberg piece that was published last week — and asks the court to compel the investor to pay for the firm’s incurred legal costs. "Because Mr. Pishevar cannot possibly produce any evidence to substantiate his claims — again, because Defendants have literally nothing to do with the allegations — his claims must be dismissed," reads the filing.
A source close to the firm said that it would not be pursuing further legal action against Pishevar for now.
"We are confident that the court will see through his strategy of filing deceitful lawsuits to intimidate women from coming forward," said Tim Miller, a partner Definers Public Affairs, in a statement.