A Silicon Valley billionaire who is a member of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's finance team came under attack in a New York Times Magazine article
, which carried accusations that he raped a business student he was mentoring.
Joe Lonsdale, a co-founder of the data-mining company Palantir Technologies, was 29 in 2012 when he served as mentor at his Stanford University alma mater to Ellie Clougherty, 21 at the time and in her junior year at Stanford. The two had, in fact, met prior to the mentorship and maintained bantering email contact, according to the Times.
In what the National Review
terms a "bizarre story," the Times reports at length on how the two became romantically involved.
During his own student days, Lonsdale had been active on campus in conservative and libertarian politics together with Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal. The Times describes them as part of "a group of male libertarians who saw" Silicon Valley "as a meritocracy built on pure talent."
With financial backing from the CIA, Lonsdale, Thiel, and others founded Palantir.
Clougherty said that the first time she ever had sex was when they shared a hotel room in Rome.
During her courtship with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Clougherty wrote Lonsdale affectionate emails, including one that read, "It was so nice sleeping with you."
When their relationship ended, Clougherty charged that Lonsdale had sexually assaulted her. She reportedly told a friend that she didn't want to be "having sex, but he's not listening to me," the Times reported.
Her supporters charge that he broke university mentorship policy by dating her.
Lonsdale had written Clougherty that he was "really scared by how you are super positive about me one day — too much so — and then super negative the next."
She complained that when she tried to reduce the frequency of their sexual encounters "he would freak out." She told a campus counselor that Lonsdale had forced her to have sex.
After weeks of therapy she said that, contrary to her initial recollection, the two did not have sex for the first time during their Rome holiday but that he had raped her at his home early in the mentorship, the Times reported.
Lonsdale said that he did not rape her, and that the first time they slept together was indeed in Rome. As for her claims that he compelled her to have more sex than she wanted, he told the magazine that she felt "Catholic guilt about how she didn't like being addicted to the body."
Paul, a likely candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, will need to raise funds from wealthy Silicon Valley libertarians if he hopes to wage a serious campaign, because he does not have an extensive grassroots donor base, according to National Review.
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